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This volume analyses major French plays of the 1830s, focusing on their theatricality, and on the ways in which they expose the workings of the theatre rather than conceal them. Through an examination of performance within these plays, the study posits that the stage is a privileged site of demonstration, a literal 'proving ground' that lends a physical reality to abstract values announced in the text and shared or questioned by the audience. Negotiating between the literary study of drama and performance theory, this work breaks new ground in nineteenth-century theatre scholarship while proposing a fresh direction in the study of text and performance. "The limits of performance' 'challenges conventional wisdom', offering 'a novel take on the 'mal du siecle', that thematic hardy perennial of French Romanticism and the nineteenth century in general', combined with 'eminently readable and, therefore, compelling' analysis of plays - 'a thought-provoking addition to work in the field"- Glyn Hambrook, "Modern and Contemporary France", November 2008.