English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 6-6-1960


In the one hundred fifty years since Charles Lamb published what might be termed his first formal criticism, opinions of his stature as a critic have waxed and waned. His critical writing has been attached as the "blasphemies of a poor manic," and praised as possibly the greatest applied criticism in English. Recent critical estimates of British criticism have tended to ignore Lamb or to damn him with faint praise.

The purpose of this study is to re-examine the earlier attitudes toward Lamb and his writing on the drama, and to look with fresh perspective at the most noteworthy of Lamb's critical observations of the drama in an effort to determine whether they have significance for today. In the first chapter there will be a review of selected books and articles about Lamb's general position as a critic. Following this will be chapters devoted to Lamb's criticism of Elizabethan drama exclusive of Shakespeare, his criticism of Shakespeare, his criticism of comedy, especially of the Restoration Period, and a short chapter on some miscellaneous criticism of actors, acting, and state presentation. A final chapter will summarize the whole study and essay an evaluation of Lamb as a critic for the present generation, or at least as an aid in creating that criticism which T.S. Eliot once said each generation must write for itself.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Cecil Vivian Wicker

Second Committee Member

Dane Farnsworth Smith

Third Committee Member

Ernest Warnock Tedlock Jr




Charles Lamb, Literary Criticism, Theater Criticism, Elizabethan, Restoration Period, William Shakespeare

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