Moliere (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. Most are built around dangerously deluded heroes such as The Miser who threaten to blight the lives of those around them. In his first great triumph, The School for Wives (newly translated for this edition), an ageing domestic tyrant is foiled in his plans to wed his young ward. Although it was criticised for mocking the 'sacred' institution of marriage - to which Moliere hit back with a play of defence, The School for Wives Criticized - it was the alleged atheism of his dark, subversive version of Don Juan which struck the blackest note. Finally, in The Hypochondriac, the terminally ill author produced a hilarious expose of the ways doctors use medical mumbo-jumbo to fleece their patients. All of Moliere's greatest achievements are included here and in the accompanying Penguin Classics volume, The Misanthrope and Other Plays.
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.
|Note on Money|
|The School for Wives||p. 1|
|The School for Wives Criticized||p. 59|
|Don Juan||p. 89|
|The Miser||p. 147|
|The Hypochondriac||p. 217|
|Explanatory Notes||p. 300|
|Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.|
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 2nd April 2000
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.1 x 1.9
Weight (kg): 19.7
Edition Number: 1