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The Rivals Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


'After years of neglect, Sheridan's 1775 comic masterpiece is coming back into fashion.' Michael Billington, Guardian, 14.9.10 'delightful comedy' Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 14.9.10 'the real pleasure of this play is in the characters, none more so than Mrs Malaprop, whose glorious abuse of the language instantly passed into the English bloodstream.' Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday, 19.9.10 'This is one of those great Irish comedies that make their home in the English theatre, sending up English life with affectionate relish.' John Peter, Sunday Times, 19.9.10 'Sheridan's play is about the gap between the need for maturity and the immaturity of people who feed their feelings with semi-romantic fantasies.' John Peter, Sunday Times, 19.9.10 'Wonderfully rich and elegant comedy is accompanied by sudden glimpses of deeper emotion' Daily Telegraph - Charles Spencer, 24.11.10 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Brinsley Sheridan was an Irish playwright and Whig statesman. He tried his talent in different genres of literature. In his plays he satirized the prevailing customs in a hilarious manner. He became a leading figure f his party. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420927167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420927160
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,146,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on October 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
The editor, Alan Downer, cautions the reader (as opposed to a spectator of the play) "not to allow himself to be troubled by the labyrinthine mechanics of the plot". Enjoy the comic aspects of the moment; the play will take care of itself. Downer argues that Sheridan envisioned The Rivals as a series of comic scenes, not necessarily a tightly woven plot.

In his preface Richard Brinsley Sheridan reminds the readers that this play was not initially well received and, in fact, he had to withdraw the play to remove imperfections. His later version was more successful and today The Rivals is one of the few English comedies from that period that continues to interest modern audiences.

I found the beginning slow. The author's wordy preface was followed by a prologue in which two lawyers plead with the audience to give this play fair consideration. On the tenth night a new prologue replaced the pleading as it was now obvious that the revised play was indeed successful. In Act 1 I had some difficulty keeping track of the characters and I chose to reread the first act before proceeding. Thereafter, the going was much smoother and I began to appreciate the foibles of the characters and their confused machinations.

The protagonist, the young Captain Absolute, was sensible for the most part, although his plan to woo the capricious Lydia Languish was obviously destined for trouble. The other characters included his excitable father Sir Anthony Absolute, his father's patient ward Julia, the silly Mrs. Malaprop, the comic gentleman wooers Faulkland, Acres, and Sir Lucius O'Trigger, and the conniving servants Fag, David, Thomas, and Lucy. While Sheridan does encourage us to laugh at his characters, his satire is gentle.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Garley on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the first major comedy by Sheridan, a radical Irish actor and politician in George III's England. Not quite as complex and astute as his later She Stoops to Conquer, the Rivals remains a warm, unforgettable, and very, very funny play.
Here we meet the chatty Mrs. Malaprop, who proudly tells us "if I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs"; her niece Lydia, lost in the world of lurid half-bound romantic novels; Sir Anthony Absolute, often wrong but never in doubt; Sir Lucious O'Trigger, of BlunderBuss Hall; and the rest. The dialogue and plot devices are well-crafted and funny; the social commentary is perceptive and satisfyingly naughty; but what stays with you is the humanity of each of the characters. These are not the charicatures of Restoration comedy, but personalties the reader will remember; ridiculous like all humans, but engendering empathy as well as laughter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chelsie Lacny on February 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My review is not on the content of the play, but on this particular edition of the play.

I know everyone has their own reading style, so this may not bother everyone. However, when I'm reading an older piece of literature, I enjoy looking at footnotes. I'm sure that some skip over them, but I do not. In this edition, however, the footnotes were there, but there were no indications in the text to let me know when to look at the footnotes. The only indication was the line number, which was written right before each footnote. This was irritating to me, and so I went through the whole play ahead of time and marked the parts where I had to look for footnotes, which was very time consuming.

I would definitely recommend reading the play, because it is very funny and there are a number of interesting literary devices going on that I won't go into here, but I would not recommend this particular edition (New Mermaids).
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If you've ever wondered what an 18th century sit-com would have been like, you have only to read The Rivals. The dialogue and clever use of language is an absolute delight.

Hilarious perfection!
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