The three plays collected in this volume demonstrate Sheridan's unerring ability to create unrivalled comedy out of ingenious plots, witty repartee, farcical situations and flamboyant characters. And while he never overtly moralizes, Sheridan uses brilliant comedy to deflate hypocrisy and satirize the manners of his age. In The Rivals, Captain Absolute becomes his own rival for the hand of Lydia Languish wooing her under another name, while her aunt, the verbally inept Mrs Malaprop, wishes her to marry the real Captain. School for Scandal continues the theme of imposture when Sir Oliver tests his nephews by appearing to them in disguise, and learns that reputation and the approval of society are of little value. And The Critic, featuring the pompous Puff and the arrogant Sneer, is a mocking depiction of the theatre, playwrights and, of course, critics. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust theseries to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-datetranslations by award-winning translators.
About the Author
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) Dublin-born playwright and theatre manager, who produced three classic comedies within a five-year writing career. "Whatever Sheridan has done or chosen to do," Lord Byron wrote, "has been, par excellence, the best of its kind." He was the son of the Irish actor-manager Thomas Sheridan and his wife Frances, a popular novelist. In 1775 the double success of Sheridan's first great comedy, "The Rivals", and his comic opera "The Duenna" allowed him to buy Garrick's share in Drury Lane; he became manager in 1776 and sole owner two years later. Another brilliant comedy of manners, "The School for Scandal", opened in 1777 at Drury Lane to universal acclaim. He also wrote a burlesque of heroic drama, "The Critic "(1779). All are high comedies, featuring such memorable characters as Mrs Malaprop, Lady Teazle, and Mr Puff. Unfortunately he was not so brilliant in his management of Drury Lane. His love of extravagant spectacles almost led to bankruptcy, and he constantly became embroiled in legal action against managers of unlicensed theatres. In 1794 he rebuilt his theatre to such vast proportions that Mrs Siddons called it "a wilderness of a place." In 1780 Sheridan abandoned the theatre to enter parliament, where he gained a reputation as a fine orator (on one occasion speaking for over five hours). When Drury Lane caught fire in 1809 he drank a leisurely glass of wine at the Great Piazza coffee house, watching the flames consume his theatre and remarking "A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine at his own fireside." He died in poverty.