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Molière’s Strategies

Timely Reflections on his Art of Comedy

Series:

Walter E. Rex

Of all the playwrights from the age of Louis XIV, only Molière’s work is still regularly performed in France and beyond. This book analyses certain elements of the plays that may explain Molière’s longevity: a plausible chain of events peppered with shocks and surprises; tensions between opposites; intellectual concerns that had not previously been the province of comedy; and plots founded on situations that are anything but comic. These hallmarks added up to an intense type of comic theatre, meaningful in ways that gave the genre a new dimension. The author of this study does not treat Molière’s plays as variations on a single prototype, but brings a fresh approach to each. The book’s witty, learned and penetrating readings examine critical issues such as the ambiguous anti-feminism of Les Femmes savantes, Molière’s revisions of the myth of Don Juan, ‘conversion’ as the theological starting point of Le Tartuffe, contrariety as the basis of comedies such as George Dandin and Le Misanthrope, and coded satire in the comédie-ballets. Each play is revealed to have a seamless comic design, while at the same time speaking to the wider world. Molière’s works are shown to be entirely and immediately involved in human society, in the social dimension of the human condition.

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Index

Extract

Adam, Antoine 50, 257–8, 268, 298 Alter, Robert 43 amour-propre 17, 80, 85–6 Apostolidès, Jean-Marie 55, 275, 282 Aubignac, François Hédelin abbé d’ 290, 297 Augustine, St 146, 277 Avare 8, 13, 73–5, 93, 111–12, 130–2, 232 ballet de cour 160, 164, 168 , 201, 295 Barbier de Séville, Le (Beaumarchais) 54 Bayle, Pierre 142, 280–1, 284, 287 Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin Caron de 54, 201 Beaussant, Philippe 164, 306 Beauzée, Nicolas 84 Beckett, Samuel 27 Bénichou, Paul 287 Bergson, Henri 2, 203, 260 Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques-Henri 209 bienséances (dramatic conventions) 68, 287, 293, 294 Biziou, Michaël 277 blasphemy 51, 55–7, 146, 273–4 Bloch, Olivier xxviii, 268, 270, 286 Boccaccio, Giovanni 11, 19, 263 Boileau, Nicolas 87, 278, 280, 288, 289, 305 Art poétique 25, 97, 99–100, 290 Bordeu, Théophile de 226–7 Bourgeois gentilhomme, Le xxiii, 74, 110, 112, 160–2, 235 Bourqui, Claude 32, 102, 111, 262, 268, 279, 295 Bray, René 269, 290, 293 Brody, Jules 277 Brown, Bruce Alan 281 Bruno, Giordano 295 Butler, Philip 150, 287 Cairncross, John 284, 287 Callières, François de 258 Carte de tendre 39, 46 Castaignet de Tanchoy 258 Chaplin, Charlie 302–3 Modern Times 202 Charpentier, Marc-Antoine 160, 170, 246, 297 Chekhov, Anton: La Cigale 71 Chevalley, Sylvie 281 Clarac, Pierre 74 Clarke, Jan 213 Clubb, Louise George 262, 265, 293 comédie-ballet development 160–2 George Dandin 8, 163–6,...

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