Information about the author:
Tatiana G. Chesnokova
Tatiana G. Chesnokova, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9326-4520
Among the variety of forms, presented in Fielding’s dramatic work, regular 5-act comedy takes a special place. The plays of this kind, produced by the writer, were not a great success in the theatre (with the exception of his adaptation of The Miser from Molière). Their reputation with critics was not the best either and for the most part still remains such. By all accounts his special gift as a playwright was most clearly displayed in his theatrical “burlesques” and “satires” (from The Author’s Farce to Pasquin and The Historical Register for the year 1736), while the future novelist’s regular plays remained a vague copy of the Restoration comedies, with incoherent inclusions of sentimental moralism. Without claiming to re-evaluate the comparative merits of Fielding’s “short” and “large” drama, the author of the article stresses the fact that regular 5-act comedies were not a mere incident in the writer’s work and in the highest degree satisfied his conscious artistic ambition. Not being content with the success of his short plays, Fielding repeatedly came back to the large comedic form contradictorily related to the group of irregular comic genres (alternately approaching and maintaining a distance from them). The evolution of Fielding’s “full-size” comedy proves it to be an indispensable link in the development of English comedy from Restoration to Sheridan and onward to the late flourish of the art of comedy on the edge of its classical forms (particularly in O. Wilde’s work).