Racine the practising dramatist had been in some danger of being crowded out from the numerous books on his psychology and style.
In this critical study of the man and his work, first published in 1951 and this slightly revised edition originally in 1973, Dr Brereton’s guiding principle has been to make the factual basis as accurate as it can be in the light of modern research. The result is the portrait of a sensitive and attractive figure which is none the worse for being shorn of certain legends.
Table of Contents
Principal Dates, Introduction, Part I: The Varied Prospect, 1. Boyhood and Port-Royal, 2. Paris and the Vitarts, 3. Uzès, Part II: Through the Jungle, 4. The Theatre in 1663, 5. Racine’s Debut: La Thébaïde and Alexandre, 6. The Break with Port-Royal, 7. Andromaque, 8. Life and Death of the Du Parc. Les Plaideurs, 9. The Challenge of Corneille, 10. The Assault on Corneille: Britannicus, 11. The Defeat of Corneille: Bérénice, 12. Patrons, Friends and Lovers, 13. A Turkish Interlude: Bajazet, 14. The Fruits of Success. Mithridate, Iphigénie, 15. The Quarrel of Phèdre, 16. Phèdre, Part III: The Promised Land, 17. Towards Security, 18. The Dramatist Re-born: Esther and Athalie, 19. The Eternal Theatre, 20. The Bourgeois Years: Family and Religion, 21. The Last Phase, 22. The Originality of Racine, Appendix: La Voisin’s Testimony, Notes, Bibliographical Note, Index
Review for the 1973 edition:
‘Geoffrey Brereton’s critical biography is a book that not only lights up the whole stage-surround of Racine’s life but explores, with an intelligence and sensitivity that matches the subject, the poet’s disturbing and sometimes sinister temperament.’
John Raymond in The New Statesman