Tuesday, October 08, 2013

On Congreve

I have admired Congreve from somewhat afar - his writing has felt so very glittering, so very polished to be not, maybe, wholly serious. But I might have been mistaken in this judgement, not having enough time to concentrate, just going for the obvious effects. This said after having encountered a very effective analysis of Congreve as one the central writers in the English canon. The era he so well reflected was perhaps even more unfortunate than most pre-modern times, such bizarre values connected with such corrupt elites.

It is always strange to think about Shakespeare in this selfsame historical context, and maybe thinking about Shakespeare leads to this belittlement of excellent, perceptive writers, but then again he wasn't, Shakespeare wasn't so attached to his particular era - to what was he attached, actually? Well, in any case as Austen shows us, there can be deadly moral seriousness behind a comedy of manners, and I am quite convinced that Congreve did observe the way of the world with a seriousness, purpose and immeasurable skill of a great artist.