The plays collected in this volume illustrate Moliere's broad range of comic devices, from satire and farce to slapstick and wordplay. In Tartuffe and The Doctor Despite Himself, Moliere mocks those taken in by a religious hypocrite and a bogus physician, while Such Foolish Affected Ladies and Those Learned Ladies ridicule the excessive refinement of the Parisian smart set. And in The Misanthrope and The Would-Be Gentleman, Moliere warns us of the dangers of obsession and intolerance. Exposing duplicity, snobbery and hypocrisy, his plays are masterly studies in the absurdities of human nature.
John Wood's and David Coward translation preserves the humour of the original French. In his introduction, David Coward discusses changing views of the plays over the centuries. This edition includes a chronology, bibliography and notes.
About The Author
Molière was the stage name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin, the son of a wealthy merchant upholsterer. He was born in Paris in 1622. At the age of twenty-one he resigned the office at Court purchased for him by his father and threw in his lot with a company of actors to found the so-styled 'Illustre Théâtre'. The nucleus of the company was drawn from one family, the Béjarts. Armande, the youngest daughter, was to become his wife.
Failing to establish themselves in Paris, the company took to the provinces for twelve years. When they returned to the capital it was with Molière as their leader and a number of the farces he had devised as their stock in trade. Invited to perform before Louis XIV, Molière secured the King's staunch patronage. In 1659 Les Précieuses ridicules achieved a great success, which was confirmed by L'École des femmes three years later. With Tartuffe, however, Molière encountered trouble; it outraged contemporary religious opinion and was forbidden public performance for several years. Don Juan also had a controversial history. Le Misanthrope, first performed in 1666, is generally considered to be the peak of Molière's achievement. Among plays that followed were L'Avare, Le Médecin malgré lui, Les Femmes savantes, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, one of the comedy-ballets to which Lully contributed the music.
By 1665 the company had become 'la troupe du Roi', playing at the Palais Royal. While taking the part of Argan in Le Malade imaginaire in 1673, Molière was taken ill, and he died the same evening. The troupe survived, however, to become one of the forerunners of the Comédie-Française.
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 21st April 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.5 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.26