France's greatest tragedian, Jean Racine, is often admired for his poetic and tragic qualities. This book, on the other hand, explores the theatrical qualities of Racine's language and takes as its analytical tool two neglected parts of rhetoric, inventio and dispositio. How does Racine write exciting dialogue? He makes the persuasive interaction of characters a key feature of his dramatic technique and Word as Action shows how he deploys persuasion in
well-defined contexts: trials, embassies, and councils; informal oratory as protagonists try to manipulate each other and their confidants in order to make their own views and wishes prevail; self-persuasion in
monologues; and narrations, often used by characters with persuasive intent. The book draws illuminating and provocative comparisons with other playwrights and offers a closer and better documented description of the specific nature of Racine's theatrical language than has previously been available in any one study.
'Racine himself was to use, in his tragedies, a suppler form of rhetoric more in tune with the original intentions of the ancients. In so doing he produced a lively and gripping theatre in which speech is action. We are indebted to Hawcroft for this fascinating and original study of the techniques which made this possible.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
'A fresh and powerful approach to Racine's verbal theatricality, the book perfectly complements David Maskell's recent examination of the non-verbal aspects of Racine's stage-art.'
FMLS, February 1993
'Hawcroft's analyses are meticulous and have the very great virtue of drawing out the immense subtlety and variety in Racine's presentation of the arguments ... a significant contribution to Racinian studies.'
Henry Phillips, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, French Studies, Vol. 47