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This Broadview edition pairs two of Frances Burney's linked comedies. They both present the character of Lady Smatter, a "femme savante" whose lineage may be traced back to Molière; they both centre on the misfortunes of the "elle" figure, the dispossessed heiress and wife who appears frequently in Burney's fiction; and they both criticize a culture of misogyny that breeds suspicion and resentment. The Witlings, lighter and more comic, derives from late seventeenth-century conventions; The Woman-Hater, more melodramatic, both expresses and warns against the excessive sensibility of romanticism. Together, these two plays constitute a miniature history of English drama from the Restoration to the French Revolution and beyond.
This edition contains a valuable selection of appendices, including: Burney’s "Epilogue to Gerilda"; letters and diary entries; contemporary writings on comedy; and Burney’s cast-list for The Woman-Hater.
Frances Burney: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
The Witlings (1778-80)
The Woman-Hater (1800-02)
Appendix A: Burney’s Earliest Theatrical Writing: Epilogue to Gerilda
Appendix B: Contemporary Letters and Diary Entries on The Witlings
Appendix C: Burney and Molière
Appendix D: Contemporary Critical Essays on "Laughing" and Sentimental Comedy
Appendix E: Literary Allusions in The Witlings and The Woman-Hater
Appendix F: Burney’s Cast-List for The Woman-Hater
Appendix G: Similarities Between The Witlings, The Woman-Hater, and Burney’s Novels