The Misanthrope and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
David Coward, Molière
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Translated by David Coward.
Molière (1622-73) combined all the traditional elements of comedy—wit, slapstick, spectacle and satire—with a deep understanding of character to create richly sophisticated dramas which have always delighted audiences. Most are built around dangerously deluded and obsessive heroes such as The Would-Be Gentleman and The Misanthrope who threaten to blight the lives of those around them. Such Foolish Affected Ladies and Those Learned Ladies (both newly translated for this edition) expose the extravagant, fashionable fads and snobbery of the Parisian smart set, while the story of the falsely devout Tartuffe and his devoted disciple Orgon attracted huge controversy for its attack on religious hypocrisy. Finally, The Doctor Despite Himself forms a hilarious chapter in Molière's long-standing vendetta against the medical profession.
Like Shakespeare, Molière was a true man of the theatre whose comedies blend sharp insight into human nature with an unerring sense of what would work on stage and make people laugh. All his greatest achievements are included here and in the accompanying Penguin Classics volume, The Miser and Other Plays.
outlaws: in 1647, the grammarian Claude Favre de Vaugelas (1585–1650) had published Remarques sur la langue française, which ruled on niceties of the language used by ‘the best part’ of the Court and the most ‘best’ authors. It became the standard reference work of French linguistic usage in the classical age. 2. Malherbe and Balzac: the poet François de Malherbe (1555–1628) was considered by 1660 as the major precursor of classical taste. Guez de Balzac (1594–1654) was instrumental in shaping
again! ELMIRE: It’s all turned out well! MARIANE: Who would have predicted this? ORGON (to Tartuffe): There! You see, you villain, you – CLÉANTE: Oh, enough brother! Don’t descend to such indignity. Leave the wretched man to his fate and don’t crow over the remorse which must now be overtaking him. Rather hope that he may henceforth return to the paths of virtue, reform his life by learning to hate his vices and so earn some mitigation of the king’s justice. Meanwhile, you must go down on
with its over-complicated, sometimes incomprehensible plots involving disguises, intercepted letters, pirates and magic spells. The first was largely a French tradition, though the Italian actors had popularized new types, like the Harlequin, while the second drew heavily on Spanish and Italian models. During the 1650s farce had disappeared from the Paris stage, but authors who wished to amuse now began importing it into plays which, for example, might attach a comic valet to a marquis who had
shown you! I’m a fool! I’m cross with myself for being so naïve as to go on being fond of you. I ought to bestow my affections elsewhere and give you proper grounds for complaining. ALCESTE: Ah, the duplicity of it! Strange indeed is my weakness for you! You are certainly deceiving me with your honeyed words but no matter, I must accept my destiny! My very soul is committed to your love. I must see to the very end what that love is made of and whether you will really be so base as to betray me.
not in love with. Why couldn’t you give her to this Monsieur Léandre that she’s taken a fancy to? She’d have obeyed you quick enough then. I reckon he’d have her just as she is if you was minded to give him the chance. GÉRONTE: Léandre isn’t what she needs. He hasn’t the money the other one’s got. JACQUELINE: He’s got a rich uncle and he’s his only heir. GÉRONTE: All that talk of money to come seems very dubious to me. There’s nothing like having it in hand. It’s a chancy business counting on