The main purpose of the present textbook is to encourage the reading and writing of plays. The plays are presented in a way to emphasize how exciting they are, and why scholarly and public attention have been continuously paid to them. There is also another goal: helping to make better known plays too much ignored, especially in the non-English literature. A particular emphasis is laid on action, what are the characters doing, or not doing.
Plays available on the Internet
Links on the Internet are provided to the complete version of the plays not protected by Copyright, with modern spelling. A more complete list of plays in English on the Internet is given in the "Added material" subsection presented below.
Chronology of plays
The dating of the plays is referenced according to the year first published or presented on stage, whichever came first, more rarely the year it was written, in cases when neither the one nor the other occurred until much later. Included in Pre-World War (WW) II plays are plays up to 1945, as the main difference in style in 20th century plays occurs before and after that date.
A separate French section during 19th and 20th centuries is given to Boulevard theatre in view of its added importance in that language.
17th century English
From the Elizabethan period, English theatre developed to Jacobean and Caroline styles, offering in general more cynical tragedies and darker comedies. Restoration theatre emphasized the satiric to the detriment of romantic comedy, unlike Shakespeare who featured both aspects.