Chapter

1872–1873 Different Worlds: Gilbert’s <i>The Wicked World;</i> Sullivan’s <i>The Light of the World</i>

Michael Ainger

in Gilbert and Sullivan

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147698
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849437 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195147698.003.0008
1872–1873 Different Worlds: Gilbert’s The Wicked World; Sullivan’s The Light of the World

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This chapter deals with the works of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan on The Wicked World and The Light of the World. The structure of The Wicked World is similar to that of Thespis: instead of a theatrical group arriving on Olympus and changing places with the gods, three mortal men are exchanged with their fairy counterparts. The resulting confusion is only undone when the men return to earth and the fairies return to their former state of happiness, without mortal love, but wiser than before. What raised eyebrows over The Wicked World was Gilbert's treatment of love—“mortal love,” as he called it—the cause of most of the problems in the world. When it was allowed to enter fairyland it caused jealousy and enmity among the blameless fairies. Gilbert's view of the world was regarded by many as cynical. In contrast to Gilbert, Sullivan enjoyed a public persona that was above controversy.

Keywords: William Gilbert; Arthur Sullivan; Wicked World; Thespis; mortal; fairy; love; fairyland

Chapter.  3764 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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