Genre Shifting in Restoration Adaptations of Cervantes’s “El curioso impertinente”
Miguel de Cervantes’s narrative “El curioso impertinente” [“The Curious Impertinent”] inserted into the frst part of Don Quixote, fascinated the English playwrights of the seventeenth century. This tragic story about curiosity, fdelity, voyeurism and male homosociality was adapted in plots or subplots of several plays written in the Jacobean and Restoration periods, though often, however, averting the tragic ending and adding comedic elements. As regards Restoration adaptations, two good examples are Aphra Behn’s The Amorous Prince; or The Curious Husband (1671) and John Crowne’s The Married Beau; or, The Curious Impertinent (1694). Behn’s play is a tragicomedy built around a romantic intrigue that attempts to exploit both the serious and comic potentials of the story, and provides a happy ending of reconciliation and multiple marriages thanks to the resolute intervention of the female characters. Crowne’s work, however, largely downplays the seriousness of the plot and turns the action around more conceited and superfcial characters, who provide several laughter-raising situations. In The Married Beau the comedic happy ending is favoured not through witty intrigue but through repentance. This article intends to analyse this genre shift and, more particularly, how Crowne adapts Cervantes’s story to the English comic stage of the 1690s.
Keywords: Miguel de Cervantes; “El curioso impertinente” [“The Curious Impertinent”]; adaptation; genre; Aphra Behn; John Crowne
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