RosBallaster, Mansfield College, Oxford University Georgian Theatre and the Novel(1714-1830) Methodologies
Samuel Crisp to Frances Burney (1779) – Burney was drafting her first play, ‘The Witlings’ after the success of her first novel, ‘Evelina’ (1777): In these little entertaining, elegant Histories, the writer has his full Scope; as large a Range as he pleases to hunt in—to pick,cull, select, whatever he likes:--he takes his own time; he may be as minute as he pleases, & the more minute the better; provided, that Taste, a deep & penetrating knowledge of human Nature, & the World, accompany that minuteness—When this is the Case, the very Soul, & all it’s most secret recesses & workings, are develop’d, & laid as open to the View, as the blood Globules circulating in a frog’s foot, when seen thro’ a Microscope….[In a comedy] every thing passes in Dialogue, all goes on rapidly;--Narration, & description, if not extremely Short, become intolerable.—The detail, which…is so delightful, on the Stage would bear down all patience.—There all must be compress’d into Quintessence—The Moment the Scene ceases to move on briskly, & business seems to hang, Sighs & Groans are the Consequence! Oh dreadful Sound!—in a Word, if the plot, the Story of the Comedy, does not open & unfold itself in the easy, natural unconstrain’d flow of the Dialogue; if that Dialogue does not go with SIpirit, Wit, Variety, Fun, Humour, Repartee &--& all in short into the Bargain—Serviteur!—Gody bye ---t’ye! (Frances Burney, Early Journals and Letters 3: 189-90)
Thomas Holcroft, preface to ‘Alwyn; or, the Gentleman Comedian (1780 ) – Alwyn, Holcroft’s first published novel, is a semi-autobiographical account of the life of a strolling player: • In a Novel, a combination of incidents, entertaining in themselves, are made to form a whole; and an unnecessary circumstance becomes a blemish, by detaching from the simplicity which is requisite to exhibit that whole to advantage. Thus, as in dramatic works, those circumstances which do not tend, either to the illustration or the forwarding of the main story, or, which do not mark some character, or person in the drama, are to be esteemed unnecessary. Hence it appears that the legitimate Novel is a work much more difficult than the Romance, and justly deserves to be ranked with those dramatic pieces whose utility is generally allowed. Thomas Holcroft, preface to ‘Alwyn; or, the Gentleman Comedian (1780 ) – Alwyn, Holcroft’s first published novel, is a semi-autobiographical account of the life of a strolling player: In a Novel, a combination of incidents, entertaining in themselves, are made to form a whole; and an unnecessary circumstance becomes a blemish, by detaching from the simplicity which is requisite to exhibit that whole to advantage. Thus, as in dramatic works, those circumstances which do not tend, either to the illustration or the forwarding of the main story, or, which do not mark some character, or person in the drama, are to be esteemed unnecessary. Hence it appears that the legitimate Novel is a work much more difficult than the Romance, and justly deserves to be ranked with those dramatic pieces whose utility is generally allowed.
1)- can theatre studies learn from histories of the novel? And can historians of the novel learn from the practices of theatre history and studies? 2) - what is the role of the print text in theatre and in the history of the novel? Does a history that relates theatre to novel inevitably privilege print at the expense of the (hardwon) gains of a theatre studies resistant to that logocentricity?
We ‘need to be critical, imaginative, alert to implication and synthetic of ideas’ Jacky Bratton, New Readings in Theatre History (2003)
Modern critical turn to: Material culture/history of the book: archives, ephemera, account books, rehearsal books, play bills, publishing house records, etc. Cognitive studies (the interdisciplinary science of the mind and its processes)/the cognitive experience of fiction (in printed book or in performance). Novel and theatre both ‘entertainment machines’ (see William B. Warner, Licensing Entertainment (1998)
Methodologies of material culture • Archaeology of performance • Rehearsal studies’ • Economic history of the arts including the theatre. Social history and genealogies of kin and family in acting families of the eighteenth century. Or political history of legislation to license and contain entertainment such as 1737 licensing act. • Theatre (and the novel?) as forms of social assemblage (Gilles Deleuze and Manuel DeLanda, David Worrall) • Actor-network-theory of Bruno Latour. • Archival work with manuscript and print sources of different states of plays pre- and post-rehearsal. Digital resources (APAC, Adam Matthew Larpent project, etc.)
Methodologies of Cognitive Study Mimesis vsDiegesis (stage vs. narrative discourse). Image schemas from text to stage: Tobin Nellhaus, ‘Performance Strategies, image schemas, and communication frameworks’, Bruce A. McConachie and Elizabeth F. Hart (eds.), Performance and Cognition: Theatre Studies and the Cognitive Turn (2006); Theory of mind - Rebecca Tierney-Hynes in Novel Minds (2013) 3) Anticipation theory - ‘An anticipatory system is a system containing a predictive model of itself and/or its environment, which allows it to change state at an instant in accord with the model’s predictions pertaining to a later instant. (Robert Rosen, Anticipatory Systems. Philosophical, Mathematical and Methodological Foundations(PergamonPress,1985, p. 341).
George Colman, Polly Honeycombe (1760) George Colman, The Jealous Wife (1761) – based on Tom Jones Half an Hour after Supper (1789) 4. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals (1775) 5. Oliver Goldsmith, The Novel (She Stoops to Conquer) (1773) 6.. Arthur Murphy , The Way to Keep Him (1760) – Frances Burney played Mrs.Lovemore in domestic performance. 7. Joseph Reed, Tom Jones, A Comic Opera (1769) – from Henry Fielding 8. Leonard Macnally, TristramShandy (1783)- from Sterne 9. Richard Cumberland, The West Indian (1771) – copious refs to Sterne and sentimental fiction 10. Robert Hitchcock, The Coquette (1777) - version of Eliza Haywood’s ‘Betsy Thoughtless’ 11. Elizabeth Inchbald, Lover’s Vows (1798) – referenced Mansfield Park 12. Charlotte Lennox, The Sister (1769) from Lennox’s ‘Henrietta’ 13. Angelica (1758) from Lennox’s ‘The Female Quixote’ 14 Samuel Riley, Roderick Random (1790) – (Manchester production) - from Smollett 15. Catherine Metcalf, Julia de Roubigne (1790) –from Henry McKenzie 16. Robert Jephson, The Count of Narbonne, (1781) - first adaptation of Walpole’s Castle of Otranto 17. Henry Siddons, The Sicilian Romance (1794) - from Ann Radcliffe 18. James Boaden ,Fontainville Forest (adaptation of Radcliffe’s Romance of the Forest) 19. William Godwin, Faulkner (1807) – 1530 (based on Defoe’s Roxana) 20. Werter (1785), Frederic Reynolds (from Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther) Plays referencing novels
Research context: Information and resources about the conditions and nature of performance of eighteenth-century theatre; • 11 volume London Stage 1660-1800 , ed. William van Lennep, et al (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1960-68) • 16 volume Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800 , ed. Philip Highfill et al (Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1973-93). As well as extensive library collections of playbills, documents, account books (V and A, Garrick Club, BL, Bod), print memoirs and biographies of actors, diaries and letters relating to theatre attendance and play reading. Work concerned with (and disputing) the ‘rise’ of the novel in the eighteenth century : • James Raven, Peter Garside and Rainer Schworing, The English Novel 1770-1829: A Bibliographical Survey of Prose Fiction Published in the British Isles (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000) and critical (Michael McKeon The Theory of the Novel: An Historical Approach (Baltimore, NJ: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000), • Deirdre Lynch and William B. Warner, Cultural Institutions of the Novel (Norh Carolina: Duke UP, 1996)). As well as extensive digital and print resources through ECCO
Research Context ii • Although the high level of theatrical experience among authors of the novel in the period and the frequency of references to novels (characters, plots, quotations) in playtexts have often been noted, surprisingly little critical work has addressed both and the ways in which they mutually informed each other. And such work as there has been has not aimed at any level of comprehensiveness or synthesis. • In a recent article on ‘Theatre History, 1660-1800’, the influential theatre historian, Robert D. Hume rightly asserts that ‘we need to get out of our ruts and make more imaginative use of the evidence available to us’