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Private Lives


Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog to Rabbit Tetralogy

a comedy by Noël Coward, performed and published in 1930. Probably its author's best-known play, it primarily involves Amanda and Elyot, whose turbulent marriage ended in divorce and who have just married steadier, more conventional people, Victor and sibyl. When they discover that their honeymoons are coincidentally occurring in the same Riviera hotel, they first quarrel with their new spouses, then leave together for Paris. There, a violent row coincides with the arrival of the indignant Victor and Sibyl, who themselves eventually launch into a quarrel of their own, which this time coincides with Amanda and Elyot's rapprochment and surreptitious departure. The play has been admired for the deft parallelism of its plotting, as well as for its sophisticated humour and amusing portraiture of people who find it difficult to live either with or without each other.

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