French Tragic Drama in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
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Originally published in 1973, the history of French tragedy and tragicomedy from their origins in the sixteenth century to the last years of Louis XIV’s reign is here surveyed in a single volume. Beginning with a brief account of the development of drama from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Dr Brereton examines the plays as types of drama, the circumstances in which they were produced and their reception by contemporaries.
The traditionally great figures of Corneille and Racine are treated at some length, but their work is seen in perspective against the plays of their predecessors and of their own time. Garnier and Montchrestien are discussed, among others, as notable writers of Renaissance humanist tragedy. Sections are devoted to secondary but still important dramatists such as Mairet, Rotrou, Du Ryer, Tristan L’Hermite, Thomas Corneille and Quinault. A long chapter on Alexandre Hardy reviews the work of this neglected author and stresses his interest as a transitional link between the two centuries and as a vigorous pioneer of a type of drama which flourished for several decades after him concurrently with French ‘classical’ tragedy.
The main currents of critical theory, social attitudes and stage history are described in their relation to the development of the drama. Well over a hundred plays are discussed or summarized; and the author has constantly referred back to the original material and has avoided an over-simplification of a vast subject which contains more exceptions and anomalies than has generally been recognized in the past. Chronological tables of the works of major dramatists, summaries of numerous plays and a bibliography containing modern editions of plays are included.
Table of Contents
Foreword. Prologue. 1. The Beginnings of French Tragedy 2. Robert Garnier 3. From Garnier to Hardy 4. Alexandre Hardy 5. Towards Classical Tragedy 6. Pierre Corneille: The First Period, 1629–1651 7. Corneille’s Principal Contemporaries 8. Pierre Corneille: The Second Period, 1659–1674 9. Romanesque Tragedy: Thomas Corneille and Quinault 10. Jean Racine 11. After Racine and Conclusion. Bibliography. Index.