Multi-ethnic, Indigenous, and Intertextual Dialogues in Drama
Edited By Dorothy Figueira and Marc Maufort
Ross Shideler Per Olov Enquist’s and Racine’s Phaedra 181
Per Olov Enquist’s and Racine’s Phaedra Ross SHIDELER University of California, Los Angeles Phaedra has been the subject of plays for many centuries; indeed, there have been a number of representations of her in dramas within the past fifteen years.1 In this essay, I will first comment briefly on some of the original Greek and Latin plays in which Phaedra appears. Next, I will turn to the most famous version, Phèdre, by Jean Racine (1638-99), which premiered in 1677, and, finally, I will focus on a 1980 version titled Till Fedra by the contemporary Swedish author Per Olov Enquist. The differences between these various works offer some insight into the social attitudes and cultural changes that have occurred over the centuries, specifically in terms of representations of sexuality. In order to contrast between Racine and Enquist effectively, it is useful to establish a brief historical framework for both plays by identifying their classical background. Before doing so, however, I will delineate the context in which Enquist wrote his play. Till Fedra is the second in a trilogy of plays that Per Olov Enquist published in the 1970s and 1980s. The first play, The Night of the Tribades: A Play from 1889 (Tribadernas natt, 1975), focused on August Strindberg, and the third play, “Rain Snakes: A family portrait from 1856” (Från regnormarnas liv, 1981), had Hans Christian Andersen as one of the two main characters. In addition to a number of thematic similarities, a well-known personage as the protagonist...
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