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2020-10-17 10:19:03
Cumberland, Richard [1732 - 1811]
The JEW: A Comedy. Performed at the Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane
Printed fro C. Dilly, In the Poultry, London, 1794. [4], 75, [1] pp. Last page the Epilogue. 8vo. Cumberland was a civil servant in the Board of Trade and Plantations as well as a prolific playwright thought to have more than fifty plays to his credit. This work, one of his more famous, only a "comedy" strictly in the "sentimental" sense common to the time. The play memorable for its main character, Sheva, a wealthy Jewish usurer who, by the end of the convoluted plot, has shown himself to be "the widow's friend, the orphan's father, the poor man's protector, the universal philanthropist." Such a sympathetic depiction of a Jew was rare, if not unprecedented, in the history of the English stage. "The benevolent design of the author appears to have been to rescue an injured and persecuted race of men from the general reproach which has fallen upon them, by exhibiting one of that body as uniting with the peculiarities of his sect eminent virtues." (The Analytical Review). Perhaps even more surprising was the work's success with audiences and critics alike; it re-established Cumberland's career after many years of flops. The play was hugely popular throughout Great Britain and America, and was performed to acclaim in Germany and Paris. However, slightly tarnishing Cumberland's humanitarianism was his subsequent bitterness over the lack of "gratitude" (read: emoluments) rendered him by the Jewish community for his efforts on their behalf. "They gave me nothing;" he is reported to have said, "and to tell you the truth I am glad of it; for if they had, in all probability, I should … [Click Below for Full Description]
Bookseller: Tavistock Books, ABAA [Alameda, CA, U.S.A.]
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