This book presents two unpublished plays by John Thelwall (1764-1834), a friend of Coleridge, a radical lecturer for the London Corresponding Society acquitted of treason in 1794, and a prolific man of letters who produced novels, poetry, journalism, literary criticism, scientific and political essays, autobiography, and sociological analysis, in addition to drama. Both plays, libretti for the London theater, are especially relevant today as they use popular literary forms to discuss critically issues of race, empire, revolution, and sexuality. ""Incle and Yarico"" (1792) comically treats the important eighteenth-century intertextual fable of the English merchant, Inkle, who betrays the Indian maid, Yarico, an innocent and ""noble savage."" The play is forthrightly abolitionist in its depiction of slavery. ""The Incas"" (1792) allegorizes the French Revolution and the English suppression of political dissent in depicting a confrontation between the Europeans and the New World. Drawing upon and extending the radical Enlightenment, Thelwall undermines the justifications for European empire. Frank Felsenstein is Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Ball State University. Michael Scrivener is a Professor of English at Wayne State University.
Publisher: Associated University Presses
Number of pages: 168
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