Incle and Yarico and The Incas: Two Plays by John Thelwall
Edited by Frank Felsenstein and Michael Scrivener

About the Editors :
Dr. Frank Felsenstein is author of Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture. C. 1660-1830 and of English Trader Indian Maid: Representing Gender, Race, and Slavery in the New World. He edited Tobias Smollett’s Travels through France and Italy and has published work on eighteenth-century English laboring-class writers such as Peter Aram, a gardener at Newby Hall in Yorkshire, and Ann Yearsley, the Bristol Milk Woman. He has held visiting positions at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Yeshiva College in New York, and Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Dr. Michael Scrivener has published numerous articles and review, as well as three books on Romanticism and politics: Radical Shelley (1982), Poetry and Reform (1992), and Seditious Allegories: John Thelwall and Jacobian Writing (2001). His book, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in the Age of Revolution and Reaction, 1776-1832 will be published in 2007 as part of the Enlightenment World series. His research interests also include Jürgen Habermas and literary theory, and the question of Jewish representations in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century culture.




This book presents two unpublished plays by the English radical, John Thelwall (1764-1834), who, as a leading member of the prorevolutionary London Corresponding Society, was tried and acquitted of high treason in 1794. A close friend of Coleridge, Thelwall was a prolific man of letters who produced novels, poetry, journalism, criticism, scientific and political essays, and autobiography. Both plays, libretti for the London theater, are especially topical today as they popular literary forms to polemicize critical issues of race, empire, revolution, and sexuality.

Incle and Yarico (1787) comically treats the well-known eighteenth-century love story of Inkle and Yarico, in which an English merchant betrays and sells into slavery an Indian maiden, and innocent “Noble Savage.” The play may well be the earliest drama penned specifically in the cause of abolition. The Incas (1792) allegorizes the French Revolution and the English suppression of dissent in portraying a confrontation between the Europeans and the New World. Drawing upon and extending the precepts of Enlightenment radicalism, Thelwall undermines the justifications for empire.

These manuscript plays, recovered from library archives at Yale University and the British Library, add to the growing canon of an author whose reputation continues to be augmented by new discoveries and fresh insights. In separate introductions and explanatory notes, the editors contextualize each play in terms of the London theater, the slave trade controversy, representations of race, and opposition to empire.

ISBN 0-8386-4101-6, $47.50




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