Hilarity among zingers and divorce with a happy ending


Private Lives shares some ground with Lost Generation writers following World War I and their disillusionment with conventional morality. The play’s contempt for marriage is shocking, even today. But Coward, who grew up an impoverished London commoner, is still more hooked on class-consciousness and needs to emulate the droll languor of the English smart-set. Also a solitary man, Amanda probably speaks for him, and us, when she says, “Few people are normal, deep down in their private lives.”


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