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Molière and Plurality

Decomposition of the Classicist Self


Jacques Lacan's comments on Le Misanthrope focus on the inauthenticity of any unified discourse (173-75), which is also Molière's concern in that play, though he used different terms. Molière does not subscribe to the myth of the classicist subject, a subject characterized by a theoretically universal - and «universalizable» - ability to produce and consume «true,» impersonal language. The ineluctability of pluralism within the «individual,» as well as among people and sub-cultures, is a fundamental theme of Moliéresque comedy, and is particularly important in the plays studied here. The critical study of discourses which has flourished in recent criticism and theory has not only a legitimate object of study, but also a precursor and ally in Molière.
Contents: Toward a Therapeutic Culture: Universal Reason, Synthetic Language, Centralized Power - Decomposition of Selves, Techniques, and Texts - The Classicist Subject as Ideological Construct - Fear, Desire, and Intertextuality in Le Misanthrope - Deconstruction of Transcendental Myth in Tartuffe - Reason, Power and Hallucination in Les Femmes Savantes.