The Virtuoso, Thomas Shadwell

2022

 

 

 

Title: The Virtuoso

Author: Thomas Shadwell

Typology: Drama

Language: English

Year: 1676

Publisher: Regents Restoration Drama

Colection: Regents Restoration Drama Series

ISBN: 978-0-8032-5368-0

Synopsis: First published in 1676, The Virtuoso set a standard for theatrical satire. It was the most extensive dramatic treatment of modern science since Jonson’s The Alchemist and took as its target no less than the Royal Society of London. Shadwell’s barbs hit their targets often and cleanly. In 1689 he became Poet Laureate of England, a position he held until his death in 1692.

The virtuoso of the title is Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, who like many after him confuses the extent of a collection with the depth of a science. Sir Gimcrack is fascinated by the geography of the moon, the worlds in his microscope, and the possibilities of human flight.

The play also introduces Sir Formal Trifle, a pedantic ciceronian orator and coxcomb. His character established thereafter the theatrical type of the know-it-all blowhard. Famous for its wit and high-speed changes, The Virtuoso is also a display of the prestige of modern science and the pomposity of its ameteurs.

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