February’s Hottie of the Month is … William Congreve, pictured here. Congreve is one of the most famous of the late seventeenth-century dramatists (others include Aphra Behn, William Wycherley, Sir George Etherege, Thomas Otway, and Sir John Vanbrugh).

Congreve lived from 1670 to 1729 and is most famous for writing The Way of the World, perhaps the most anthologized play of the late seventeenth century — I refuse to call him a Restoration playwright, since “the Restoration” as a period really should end in 1689 with the ascent of William and Mary. (Maybe I should post about that sometime — titillating, don’t ya think?!)

Actually, I don’t particularly like William Congreve all that much. This is at least partly a response to his play being so anthologized. If students are going to read only one Restoration comedy, I think it should be The Man of Mode, The Country Wife, or The Rover. These are actual Restoration comedies. Congreve really represents something else — the beginning of the eighteenth century and it’s rejection of what it perceived to be Restoration (im)morality.

But Willy’s kind of cute in this portrait — I love his wig and his chubby cheeks. If he had been born about a decade earlier, I could imagine him as Rochester’s catamite.

And The Way of the World is a great play — except for the characters’ names: Mirabell and Millamant as our leading man and lady? Whatever. (In case it isn’t obvious, the “hottie of the month” feature is very tongue-in-cheek!) Check back in a month to see who’s March’s hottie!

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