The Fair Penitent
is Nicholas Rowe's
Nicholas Rowe , English dramatist, poet and miscellaneous writer, was appointed Poet Laureate in 1715.-Life:...
stage adaptation of the tragedy The Fatal Dowry
The Fatal Dowry is a late Jacobean era stage play, a tragedy written by Philip Massinger and Nathan Field, and first published in 1632. It represents a significant aspect of Field's very limited dramatic output....
the Philip Massinger
Philip Massinger was an English dramatist. His finely plotted plays, including A New Way to Pay Old Debts, The City Madam and The Roman Actor, are noted for their satire and realism, and their political and social themes.-Early life:The son of Arthur Massinger or Messenger, he was baptized at St....
and Nathan Field collaboration first published in 1632
The year 1632 in literature involved some significant events.-Events:*On February 14, Tempe Restored, a masque written by Aurelian Townshend and designed by Inigo Jones, is performed at Whitehall Palace....
. Rowe's adaptation, premiered onstage in 1702
The year 1702 in literature involved some significant events.-Events:* March 11 - First publication of the Daily Courant, The year 1702 in literature involved some significant events.-Events:* March 11 - First publication of the Daily Courant, The year 1702 in literature involved some significant...
and first published in 1703
The year 1703 in literature involved some significant events.-New books:* Bernard de Mandeville - Some Fables After the Easie and Familiar Method of Monsieur de la Fontaine* Benjamin Whichcote - Moral and Religious Aphorisms-New drama:...
, was a great popular success through much of the 18th century, and was praised by critics as demanding as Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...
("There is scarcely any work of any poet so interesting by the fable and so delightful in the language").
In making his adaptation, Rowe eliminated characters and simplified the action "to create a more focused play than the original." He pursued "neoclassical simplicity" but in the process sacrificed the "underlying moral principles" of the original. Rowe shifted the setting from Dijon
Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....
, and changed the main characters' names:
Rowe also accentuated the role of the female protagonist, making the play much more a vehicle for a female star performer, a "better acting piece" for a prominent actress. Where the original "concentrates largely on the legal and political affairs of the cuckolded husband," Rowe focused far more directly on the domestic tragedy of Calista's infidelity.
The play was staged at both of the major London theatres of the day, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...
and Covent Garden
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...
; the former production starred Mrs. Siddons
Sarah Siddons was a Welsh actress, the best-known tragedienne of the 18th century. She was the elder sister of John Philip Kemble, Charles Kemble, Stephen Kemble, Ann Hatton and Elizabeth Whitlock, and the aunt of Fanny Kemble. She was most famous for her portrayal of the Shakespearean character,...
as Calista. The 1703 first edition was dedicated to the Duchess of Ormond—but did not credit the original authors of The Fatal Dowry,
leading to later critics' accusations of plagiarism
Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous...
against Rowe, as in William Gifford
William Gifford was an English critic, editor and poet, famous as a satirist and controversialist.-Life:Gifford was born in Ashburton, Devonshire to Edward Gifford and Elizabeth Cain. His father, a glazier and house painter, had run away as a youth with vagabond Bampfylde Moore Carew, and he...
's edition of Massinger's works.
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...
"Lothario," meaning "a man who seduces women," stems from the character in this play. The origin of Lothario as a name indicating a seducer though predates the play by Rowe and the described source of Massinger. The latter is thought to be written in 1619. The character of Lothario as a seducer, albeit in different circumstances, appears earlier in Don Quixote
-People:*Alfonso J. Cervantes , mayor of St. Louis, Missouri*Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, 16th-century man of letters*Ignacio Cervantes, Cuban composer*Jorge Cervantes, a world-renowned expert on indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse cannabis cultivation...
. In this story Lothario is urged by his lifelong friend Anselmo to attempt to seduce his wife in order to test her faithfulness. At first most unwilling he eventually enters into the scheme with skill and success. This earlier Lothario is a successful seducer.
Malcolm Goldstein is a composer, violinist and improviser who has been active in the presentation of new music and dance since the early 1960s. He received an M.A. in music composition from Columbia University in 1960, having studied with Otto Luening...
edited The Fair Penitent
for a modern edition in 1969. Critics, both traditional and modern, have debated whether Calista is actually "penitent" for her infidelity.
- Brawley, Benjamin Griffith. A Short History of English Drama. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1921.
- Freeman, Lisa A. Character's Theater: Genre and Identity on the Eighteenth-Century English Stage. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.
- Goldstein, Malcolm, ed. The Fair Penitent. Regents Restoration Drama series; Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1969.
- Howe, Elizabeth. The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660–1700. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
- Logan, Terence P., and Denzell S. Smith, eds. The Later Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama. Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1978.
- Marsden, Jean I. Fatal Desire: Women, Sexuality, and the English Stage, 1660–1720. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 2006.