La Perouse, A Drama, in Two Acts. From the German of Augustus von Kotzebue; by Benjamin Thomson… as performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. LA PEROUSE, Augustus von KOTZEBUE.
La Perouse, A Drama, in Two Acts. From the German of Augustus von Kotzebue; by Benjamin Thomson… as performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
La Perouse, A Drama, in Two Acts. From the German of Augustus von Kotzebue; by Benjamin Thomson… as performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

La Perouse, A Drama, in Two Acts…
La Perouse, A Drama, in Two Acts. From the German of Augustus von Kotzebue; by Benjamin Thomson… as performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

London: Vernor and Hood, 1799.

Octavo, 40 pp., recent wrappers, solander case.

La Pérouse torn between two wives.

A light-hearted drama based on the disappearance and conjectured fate of La Pérouse in the Pacific.

A light-hearted drama based on the disappearance and conjectured fate of La Pérouse in the Pacific.
This is the London-published translation of the German play which had appeared in Leipzig in 1797, an early example of what would become a number of fanciful works speculating on the fate of the lost French Pacific explorer, a tradition which continued even after Dillon discovered the site of his fatal shipwreck in the late 1820s.
Augustus von Kotzebue was the author of some two hundred theatrical works. Director of the Vienna Court Theatre, he was also successful abroad, becoming the key figure in the short but brilliant 'Glanzperiode' (1798-1802), during which German drama dominated the London stage. He was also a successful librettist, and Beethoven, Schubert and Weber each set his librettos to music. After a period living in Russia, Kotzebue returned to Germany as an agent of Czar Alexander I. He was detested for his reactionary propaganda and was subsequently assassinated in Mannheim by a student. Of his twelve sons, the best-remembered is Otto von Kotzebue, the Russian navigator and scientist who completed three circumnavigations, charted much of the Alaskan coast, and discovered and named Kotzebue Sound (off western Alaska) as well as several islands in the Society and Marshall groups in the Pacific.
Benjamin Thomson, translator here, was noted by Thomas Dibdin in his Reminiscences as a translator of German plays for the London theatre scene. Ferguson notes another English translation of 1799 by Anne Plumptre. The play itself was clearly a frolic, summarised by a contemporary reviewer: 'To create distress out of nothing, La Pérouse is supposed to be found on an uninhabited island, after residing there for eight years with a lovely female, who, from his preserver, had become his wife. Here he is found by his real wife, Adelaide, and after much struggle which he shall retain, and which relinquish, and after nearly killing both the ladies with grief, it is agreed that the three should live together as sisters and brother. It is a little peculiar that they are dissuaded from returning to France on account of the Revolution; this passage was an agreeable surprise to us.'

Ferguson, 286b; McLaren, 510.

Price (AUD): $2,200.00  other currencies     Ref: #4201772

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