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L'auteur de _The Absent Man_ (fwd) BOURASSA ANDRE G




Anne Carrier avait fait parvenir sa question non seulement a Queatre mais
a deux autres specialistes, Patrick O'Neill, de St. Vincent, et Franck
Boyle, de Fordham. Voici la reponse du premier; il ne m'en voudra pas
d'avoir laisse la clausule ou il s'explique de sa reponse en anglais a
une question en francais.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Please accept my apologies, but I am in the midst of a production and
simply do not have time to travel to Dalhousie Library to give you a
proper answer.  Despite that, I can give you a little information at
this time.

You appear to be confusing Bickerstaff without an e [a ficticious
character], with Bickerstaffe with an e [a real person].

Fiction.
John Partridge, a cobbler/astrologer, published an almanac of
predictions in 1707.  In 1708, Johanthon Swift produced a parody of
this work which was entitled, "Predictions for the ensuing year, by
Isaac Bickerstaff" [Note no e] in which he foretold the death of
Partridge on 29 March.  On 30 March, he published a letter with an
account of Partridge's demise.  This led Partridge to protest that he
was still alive.  Swift then published a "Vindication" proving once
and for all that Partridge was dead.  Other English scholars took up
the joke and Bickerstaff continued to flourish.  Steele adapted the
name Bickerstaff for the supposed author of The Tatler in 1709, and
later he invented Bickerstaff's sister Jenny Distaff, who also
appears in other pieces of literature.

That is the fictitious Bickerstaff.  The actual man was Isaac
Bickerstaffe (c.1735-c.1812) who became "The Absent Man" in 1772 when
he fled England to escape the hangman.  He died on the Continent in
poverty.  A friend of Johnson, Goldsmith, and Garrick, he was
considered the equal to John Gay as a writer of lyric comedy and
produced many successful scripts between 1760 and 1772.  The Padlock
of 1768 alone earned him 1700 pounds.  His Love in a Village of 1762
relied heavily on Le Jeu de l'amour et du hazard and The Hypocrite of
1769 on Tartuffe so a French source for The Absent Man is quite
reasonable, but I need to check this further at the Dal Library
probably sometime at the end of next week.

Allardyce Nicoll employed the Lord Chamberlain's Records for the
compilation of his books, and, if he states the play was by
Bickerstaffe (with an e) it most likely was by him.

As to a preferred language of correspondence, I have no objection to
receiving mail in French, if you have no objection to receiving
replies in English.  The reason for this is in your last message.
When you write "j'y perds mon latin" I lost my train and nearly lost
my marbles.  As a product of the old Ontario school system, I am
confident in my reading ability of French, but my writing is rather
stilted, and I speak French like a Portuguese sailor.

I hope this helps you, and I will try to check further next week on
Bickerstaffe with an e.

O'Neill