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Written in defiance of Jeremy Collier and the budding fashion for sentimental drama, this late Restoration comedy exposes the reformed rake Loveless to the temptations of London and the charms of a merry widow, neither of which he is able to withstand.
More memorable than the straying husband, however, is Restoration comedy's ultimate follower of fashion, Lord Foppington, who defends himself in the Epilogue by observing that no highwayman or Jacobite was ever well dressed.
As the introduction to this edition argues, Sir John Vanbrugh - dramatist, architect and member of the influential Kit Cat Club - presents courtship and marriage not only with cynicism, but also with moral bravery and social impudence; qualities not much in evidence in his sentimental rivals.
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