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This special quantity comprises 8 early dramas that replicate American literary, social, and cultural background: Royall Tylers The Contrast (1789); William Dunlap'sAndre (1798); James Nelson Barker's The Indian Princess (1808); Robert Montgomery Bird's The Gladiator (1831); William Henry Smith's The Drunkard(1844); Anna Cora Mowatt's Fashion (1845); George Aiken's Uncle Tom's Cabin(1852); and Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon (1859).

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In fact, fate had played an atrocious trick on Stefano who, mature and weary, had married (as we said) out of desperation and as a kind of challenge. His wife’s womb announced a new and undesirable be­ ing right at the start, whom the woman (who on the contrary awaited it in a mood of exaltation) had already baptized Andrea. He too de­ manded Stefano’s attention. In truth his marriage had been the best possible, yet for this very reason seemed inconvenient. His wife was little more than a child, alone in the world, poor, loving, and, what’s more, physically small, and she leaned on him with all the faith of which precisely an eighteen-year-old is capable: how could one abandon her in that moment of grave travail?

It is ridiculous, absurd if you wish, but it is so: one does something one does not know how to do. Shouldn’t it be enough, I say, that one does not know how to do it, for that something not to take place? But not at all: so what must we think then? We could dis­ cern in this the intervention of some blind and adverse or supremely beneficent force, provided, however, the necessity of death were proven. And who, what unworthy believer or devout person would go so far ? To gulp it down is all that is left him.

I did not know what that internal fioritura was, and yet the anguish of not knowing did not take away that strange peaceful­ ness, that sort of happiness which had sprung up with it in my soul. What could it be if not a mystical answer to my desperate questions, to my unarmed desire? A moment before there had been nothing within me but arid and desolate emptiness, a void: now it was an allness which had only to be given a name. But to do so grew more ur­ gent from one instant to the next, and this anxiety was rapidly sweep­ ing away all peace.

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