Racine: A Theatrical Reading

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Clarendon Press, 1991 - Performing Arts - 272 pages
This original and innovative study is the first systematic exploration of Racine's theatricality. It is based on a close examination of all Racine's plays and on evidence for performance of them from the seventeenth century to the present day. David Maskell considers, with the help of illustrations, the relationship between verbal and visual effects. He shows how the decor in plays such as Andromaque, Britannicus and Berenice is significant for the action, and indicates the rich, oftensymbolic implication of stage properties and physical gestures, particularly in Mithridate, Phedre, and Athalie. Racine's usually neglected single comedy, Les Plaideurs, is shown to cast light on the theatrical language of his eleven tragedies. Some familiar topics of tragedy - moral ambiguity, error, and transcendence - emerge in a fresh light, and the concept of the tragic genre is critically examined from the theatrical standpoint. This study challenges many long-established viewsof Racine and lays the foundation for a reassessment of his role in French drama. It also opens new perspectives on his relationship with dramatists writing in other languages.

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Spectators on stage From Charles Perrault Le Cabinet
Setting the Scene
Fear From Le Brun Methode pour apprendre d dessiner

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About the author (1991)

David Maskell, Fellow and Tutor in French, Oriel College, Oxford.

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