Bibliography

Williams, George Walton. Image and Symbol in the Sacred Poetry of Richard Crashaw. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1967.

OTTAVA RIMA A verse form used to some extent during the Renaissance, ottava rima became popular in the 19th century when adopted by the romantics, particularly George Gordon, Lord Byron. An Italian creation employed by Tasso, Ariosto, and others, it consists of eight-line stanzas, each line containing 11 syllables, with a rhyme scheme of ababbcc.

OTWAY, THOMAS (1651-1685) Thomas

Otway was born in Trottin, Sussex, and raised at nearby Woolbeding, where his father, Humphrey, served as rector. Educated in Winchester and Oxford, Otway failed at acting, trying his luck in the drama Forc'd Marriage, or the Jealous Bridegroom by Aphra Behn. Supposedly gripped by paralyzing stage fright, he later became a decent writer of tragic drama, his first two plays titled Alcibiades (1675) and Don Carlos (1676). While he adopted for his early work the popular Restoration period format of rhymed couplets with elevated rhetoric, his later dramas, especially The Orphan (1680) and Venice Preserved, or a Plot Discovered (1682), reflect nontraditional elements. These include blank verse format supported by an honest emotional character portrayal and stylistically reflecting Otway's cynical view of life in satire. Critics feel Otway's exposure to works by the French writers Racine and Moilere supported his tone of resignation toward life's trials. John Dryden later commented on Venice Preserved, a widely translated piece with an antipapal theme. Later dramas proved less successful because of weak plotting that did not complement his heavy style. In his 1692 play The History and Fall of Caius Marius he adopted the main plot of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet into a retelling of the story of Marius found in Plutarch's Lives.

Although a popular writer, Otway lacked success in both romantic and financial matters. His devotion to the actress Elizabeth Barry, supposedly mistress to the John Wilmot, 2nd earl of Rochester, was not reciprocated, and Otway died alone and in poverty. According to some sources, he choked while eating ravenously, the result of starvation. Described as a tragic genius and a splendid writer, Otway remains important as a poet for his imitation of John Denham's Cooper's Hill in a 1685 poem titled "Windsor Castle." However, his best remembered verse appears in excerpts from his Pindaric poem "The Poet's Complaint of His Muse." It presents a satirical self-portrait, lacking charm or sophistication, but admirable for its strength of purpose. Its force and vivid description compensate for its lack of art. Letters from Otway appeared in the two-volume Familiar Letters (1697) by Tom Brown and Charles Gilden. The letters reveal not only Otway's unrequited love, but also his firm anti-Whig political views. Critics continue to show interest in Otway; David Bergman, for example, suggests possible influence by Otway's drama The Soldier's Fortune (1680) on T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland.

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