The Embodiment of Characters

The Embodiment of Characters
The Representation of Physical Experience on Stage and in Print, 1728-1749

Jones DeRitter

192 pages | 6 x 9
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512801774 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

In The Embodiment of Characters, Jones DeRitter examines the connection between the eighteenth-century London stage and the early English novel. DeRitter begins with the sweeping changes decreed by the Stage Licensing Act of 1737, which closed three of London's five legitimate theaters and dictated that every new play would have to be censored and licensed by the Lord Chamberlain's office. Before 1737, reading plays had been a favorite pastime of literate English men and women, after 1737, many of these readers shifted their attention to novels.

After using The Beggars Opera and The London Merchant to trace the different ways that sex and death could be presented in the material world of theatrical performance, DeRitter uses Clarissa and Tom Jones to explain how the debate over the value and consequences of human physicality was transformed by the shift from the London stage to the pages of the realistic novel. A crucial central chapter focuses on the life and autobiographical Narrative of Charlotte Charke—performer, memoirist, and male impersonator—whose struggle to define and defend herself traversed the boundaries between print and performance, between public and private life, and between the human body and the person who inhabited it.

The Embodiment of Characters will be of interest to students and scholars of eighteenth-century, gender, and cultural studies, and English literature.

Jones DeRitter is Professor of English and Theater at The University of Scranton.

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