The Theatre of Illusion

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Dramatists Play Service Inc, 2012 - Drama - 78 pages

Pierre Corneille, in his original dedication for The Theatre of Illusion, described the play as a "strange monster." He first called these five acts a comedy; later, a "caprice" and an "extravagant trifle." Written in 1635 and staged in 1636, the play vanished from the stage for the next three hundred years--to be revived in 1937 by Louis Jouvet and the Comedie Francaise. Since then it has been widely considered, in Virginia Scott's words, "Corneille's baroque masterpiece."

Today this brilliant piece of wit and drama is available in a new translation from one of America's finest poets and translators of French, Richard Wilbur. Widely praised for his translations of plays by Moliere and Racine, Wilbur now turns his poetic grace to this work, which remains as much a celebration of the comedy of humanity and the magic of life as it was when Corneille wrote it.

 

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User Review  - Devil_llama - LibraryThing

Fairly standard Renaissance fare, except that it adds a new twist, one that would be familiar to modern readers but at the time was unheard of - comedy/tragedy in the same play, for a tragi-comic ... Read full review

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User Review  - nosajeel - LibraryThing

A beautifully translated play, as usually, by Richard Wilbur. The play alternates between comedy, farce, fantasy, romance, and tragedy -- without falling in to any of the conventional classical forms ... Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
9
Section 2
49
Section 3
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Corneille is a part of the greatest period of French drama. His artistic model and theory of the drama were to be followed by successive generations of dramatists, including Racine. His plays deal with noble characters in closely defined situations of high moral intensity. After modest success as a writer of complex, baroque comedies, Corneille achieved fame with Le Cid (1636--37), adapted from Guillen de Castro's three-day comedy Las Moceddes del Cid. It vividly represents the dominant theme of his tragedies: the inner struggle between duty and passion. Corneille went on to dominate the French theater of his day with plays that reflect the changing relationships between the aristocracy and the new absolutist state. Some of Corneille's other major tragedies include Horace (1640), Cinna (1640), and Polyeuctus (1643). In his shaping of language and form to his dramatic purposes, Corneille had a great effect on the development of French literature; more specifically, it can be said that he gave form and aim to French neoclassicism.

Richard Purdy Wilbur was born in New York City on March 1, 1921. He received a bachelor's degree from Amherst College in 1942. During Word War II, he was a combat soldier in Europe. He received a master's degree from Harvard University in 1947. He taught at Harvard University, Wesleyan University, Smith College, and Amherst College. His first collection, The Beautiful Changes, was published in 1947. His other collections of poetry included The Mind-Reader and Anterooms. In 1957, he received the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for Things of This World. He received a second Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for New and Collected Poems. He became the second poet laureate of the United States in 1987-88 and received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2006. He also wrote and illustrated several children's books and wrote lyrics for opera and musical theater productions including Leonard Bernstein's Candide. He was a translator of poems and other works from the French, Spanish, and Russian, including the plays of Molière and Jean Racine. He was the co-recipient of the Bollingen Translation Prize in 1963. He died on October 14, 2017 at the age of 96.

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