Idler and the Dandy in Stage Comedy, 500 B. C. to 1830

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This book follows the progress of the Greek parasite figure through his various interpretations by different poets as seen in the remaining fragments. On the Roman stage of Plautus, the parasite became a key comic figure in proceedings, later replaced by the wily slave. In medieval comedy he can be seen as the vice of morality plays, in mummers plays and he emerges as a type in early Tudor theatre. On the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage the chancing rascal was a frequent feature, most notably Falstaff. Throughout the Restoration dissipated gallants and workshy fops became well established and their behaviour reached the outer limits of the bawdy. In 18th century sentimental comedy the fascination with such roguery, ageing dandyism and peripheral scavengers remained, but modified. Rogues, idlers, skivers, flatterers and the work-shy: all chisellers.


“This lively and engaging study manages to be both scholarly and genuinely entertaining as it follows the development of the ‘chiseller’ character from his Graeco-Roman progenitors through all eras of theatre history, concluding with the sentimental comedies of the early 19th century. It represents a formidable undertaking, but Dr. Ritchie’s effortlessly encyclopaedic understanding of both this particular comic type and the historical development of stage comedy more generally is demonstrated throughout.”
– Dr. Margaret Coldiron, Durham University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface by Dr. Oliver Double
1 Introduction
2 Greek Parasites
3 Roman Parasites
4 Fools and Vices
5 Commedia dell’Arte
6 Rogues and Cross-biters
7 Jacobean City Comedy
8 Rakes and Fops
9 Mohocks
10 Macaroni’s

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