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Iphigenia; Phaedra; Athaliah (Penguin Classics)by Jean Racine
Synopses & Reviews
Four of the greatest French plays, in new translations
Here are four plays that continue to define French theater over three centuries after they were written. Corneilles Cinna (1641) explores absolute power in ancient Rome. Molières comedy The Misanthrope (1666) sees its antihero reject society for its hypocrisy. Racines Andromache (1667) recounts the tragedy of Hectors widow after the Trojan War, and his Phaedra (1677) shows a mother crossing the boundaries of love with her stepson. This edition features new verse translations undertaken with performance in mind, and a wealth of supplementary materials for students and actors.
Writing under the auspices of France's radical and omnipotent king, Louis XIV, Racine created settings that reflect all the auro and majesty of his Monarch's rule. But within this framework, he developed themes of ruthless and unrelenting tragedy.
About the Author
Jean Racine was born in 1639 at La Ferté Milon, sixty miles east of Paris. Orphaned at an early age, he was educated at the Little Schools of Port Royal and the pro-Jansenist College of Beauvais. He soon reacted against his austere mentors and by 1660 he had begun to write for the theater and had been introduced to the court of Louis XIV. In 1677, when he had ten plays to his credit and was high in favor with both the court and the public, he abandoned the theatre, which was regarded as far from respectable by the Church, and joined the Establishment as Royal Historiographer. It was only after a silence of twelve years that he wrote his last two plays (both on religious subjects), Esther and Athaliah. He died in 1699.
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