Margaret Evans Porter's The Toast of the Town



Porter's The Toast of the Town offers frequent references to and chapter epigrams from Twelfth Night as it follows the career of Flora Campion, a professional actress who finds that talent is not enough to distinguish her from her less respectable fellow professionals. Playing Olivia opposite a flirtatious actress who makes the most of her physical charms playing Viola and acquiring protectors, Flora, too, draws the attention of an ardent, mistress-seeking nobleman. His pursuit of her moves through the perils and stresses of a very thoroughly researched Regency theater world. This novel takes the theater seriously as the historical context for their narratives and uses Shakespeare as the familiar Other, invoking and bridging historical difference. His texts primarily constitute setting for the actress novels. Although few of these novels actually incorporates Shakespeare's plays in the plot, Porter's The Toast of the Town may be an exception since the nobleman's endless and obsessive pursuit of the heroine echoes Orsino’s excessive passion for Olivia and revises that passion (since he finally does succeed in wooing the lady).


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