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Other titles in the New Cultural Studies series:
Birth Marks: The Tragedy of Primogeniture in Pierre Corneille, Thomas Corneille, and Jean Racine (New Cultural Studies)by Richard E. Goodkin
Synopses & Reviews
Birth Marks reexamines the body of French classical tragedy from the perspective of recent theories about the sibling bond and, in particular, birth order. Through a study of the evolution of inheritance issues in seventeen tragedies written over the course of half a century by the Corneille brothers, Pierre and Tomas, and by Jean Racine, the book questions the pervasive assumption that classical tragedy, a form written for the aristocracy, is informed exclusively by an aristocratic thic.<P>Instead, a fresh reading of both canonical and noncanonical texts demonstrates that even the most formal body of literature produced by French classical writers expresses a conflict between a declining aristocratic hierarchy based on inherited privilege and a rising capitalistic ethic that favors competition and enterprise.
Book News Annotation:
Despite barriers to penetrating a sociocultural context so alien to our own, Goodkin (French, U. of Wisconsin) believes that a foray into 17th century French Classical tragedy written for the Versailles Court warrants the time warp. The author adopts primogeniture, the practice of the oldest son inheriting an estate, as a metaphor for the mentalities underlying the feudalism-to-capitalism transition. Psychological primogeniture, in which sibling rivalry haunts family relationships, is viewed broadly as a theme in French literature written and performed between the foundation of the Acad<'e>mie francaise in 1635 and 1677, the year Racine presented dre/>, a tale of sisters, as his theatrical swan song. The Corneilles' works reflect brotherly conflict.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Includes bibliographical references (p. -276) and index.
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