Among the dramatic styles enumerated by Polonius in announcing the players at Elsinore was the pastoral-comical. It was coming well into fashion at the beginning of the seventeenth century and Shakespeare was bound sooner or later to handle it. Pastoral-comical is not of course confined to the theatre. It satisfies the craving of civilised people in all ages to assume a simplicity which is, in effect, only a further step in sophistication. My lady of fashion fancies herself as a Dresden shepherdess; the raffish young gentleman sees himself piping on an oaten straw. Poets, painters and composers, great and small, have ministered down the ages to this affectation, which has been responsible for more bad verse, insipid pictures and commonplace music than has sprung from any other reputable source on Parnassus.


Antique World Comic Character Simple Life Oaten Straw Genial Spirit 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1946

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Palmer

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