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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2012

Raphael Lyne
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Subha Mukherji
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College
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Summary

It is a pastorall Tragic-comedie, which the people seeing when it was plaid, having ever had a singuler guift in defining, concluded to be a play of contry hired Shepheards, in gray cloakes, with curtaild dogs in strings, sometimes laughing together, and sometimes killing one another: And misling whitsun ales, creame, wasiel & morris-dances, began to be angry. In their error I would not have you fall, least you incurre their censure. […] A tragie-comedie is not so called in respect of mirth and killing, but in respect it wants deaths, which is inough to make it no tragedie, yet brings some neere it, which is inough to make it no comedie: which must be a representation of familiar people, with such kinde of trouble as no life be questiond, so that a God is as lawfull in this as in a tragedie, and meane people as in a comedie. This much I hope will serve to justifie my Poeme, and make you understand it, to teach you more for nothing, I do not know that I am in conscience bound.

This is how John Fletcher summarises the characteristics of tragicomedy for the readership of The Faithful Shepherdess (first performed 1608–09, printed c.1609). Its theatrical audience had not been won over by its version of the latest trends in Italian pastoral drama, so this is an attempt to answer their objections.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2007

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