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The Art of Voltaire's Theater

An Exploration of Possibility


Marie Wellington

This study of Voltaire's theater points out the dramaturgical elements of situations, character types, theme and technique. Their specification and categorization emphasize a system and shed light on a practical theory deriving from a close reading of Voltaire's dramatic works. Aside from linking him to his seventeenth-century predecessors in tragedy, his approach offers an ideological consistency equally relevant to his comedies. Showing how closely allied Voltaire's plays are to each other and the possibilities for deviation within similarity, this work provides a new perspective on Voltaire's theater. It is the product of a man of the theater who relegates his role as philosopher to a secondary level, thus exploiting his philosophical notions to the benefit of his dramatic intent.
Contents: The system of Voltaire's theater is seen through scrutiny of his plays with reference to situations, character types, theme and technique. Distinct from studies accenting Voltaire's philosophy or biographical data, this book relies on his plays themselves to reveal the schema of his dramatic practice.