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Acts of DesireWomen and Sex on Stage 1800-1930$
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Sos Eltis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691357

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691357.001.0001

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English Decency and French Immorality

English Decency and French Immorality

(p.81) 3 English Decency and French Immorality
Acts of Desire

Sos Eltis

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the translation and adaptation of French plays for the English stage in the nineteenth century. In response to changes in divorce and marriage laws and the commercial and critical success of Dumas's La Dame aux Camélias, the nineteenth-century French theatre was dominated by plays centring on illicit female sexuality. English adapters emptied these plays of their social commentary and moral debate, purifying them of their sexual subject matter in order to meet the stricter requirements of English stage censorship. But, as the stage history of La Traviata and of numerous bowdlerised and sanitized adaptations of Dumas's play demonstrates, adapters were also skilful at evading the censor's control, leaving logical gaps and coded references to the original French sources in order to convey banned subject matter and illicit meanings to audiences in the know

Keywords:   french theatre, censorship, lord chamberlain, adaptation, translation, dumas fils, camille, la traviata, courtesan, morality

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