Sir Martin Mar-all

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Sir Martin Mar-all, or The Feign'd Innocence is an English Restoration comedy, first performed on 15 August 1667.[1] Written by John Dryden and based on a translation of L'Étourdi by Molière,[2] it was one of Dryden's earliest comedies, and also one of the greatest theatrical successes of his career.

The play's 1666 entry into the Stationers' Register assigned it to William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle. John Downes, in his Roscius Anglicanus (1708), maintained that Newcastle executed "a bare translation" of Molière's play, which was revised and adapted by Dryden.[3] The play was first published in quarto in 1668, in an anonymous volume, which was re-issued in 1678; a third edition in 1691 carried Dryden's name, and the play was included in the 1695 edition of Dryden's collected works.

The initial production of the play was a huge success; it ran for thirty-two performances and was acted four times at Court. Samuel Pepys saw the play seven times, and called it "the most entire piece of mirth...that certainly was ever writ."[4] According to Downes, the play made "more money than any preceding comedy" at the Duke of York's Theatre. Sir Martin Mar-all was referenced by other poets for the foolishness of the title character, who, in order to impress his mistress Millicent, mimes playing a lute and lip-syncs while another character makes music from within. Of course, he continues lip-syncing and strumming his quiet lute after the true player ceases to make any sounds and exposes himself as a fraud.

In addition to Newcastle's translation of Molière, Dryden also adapted material from L'Amant Indiscrit by Philippe Quinault, from the Francion of Charles Sorel, and from The Antiquary by Shackerley Marmion.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 15 August 1667
  2. ^ Brooks, Harold F. (April 1948). "Molière et la comedie de moeurs en Angleterre (1660-1668) by Andre de Mandach". The Review of English Studies (Oxford University Press) 24 (No. 94): 159–160. JSTOR 509947. 
  3. ^ Perry, Henry Ten Eyck. The First Duchess of Newcastle and Her Husband as Figures in Literary History. Boston, Ginn and Co., 1918; p. 150.
  4. ^ Perry, p. 151.
  5. ^ Allen, Ned Bliss. The Sources of John Dryden's Comedies. Ann Arbor, MI, University of Michigan Press, 1935.