Molière: pronunciation: [molyair] the pseudonym of Jean Baptiste
Playwright, born in Paris. He studied with the Jesuits at the Collège de Clermont. In 1643 he embarked on a theatrical venture under the title of L'Illustre Théâtre, which lasted for over three years in Paris. The company then proceeded to the provinces, and had sufficient success to keep going from 1646 to 1658, obtaining the patronage of Philippe d'Orléans. In 1658 he played before the king, and organized a regular theatre. From the publication of Les Précieuses ridicules (1659, trans The Affected Young Ladies), no year passed without at least one major dramatic achievement, such as L'Ecole des femmes (1622, The School for Wives), Tartuffe (1664), Le Misanthrope (1666, The Misanthropist), and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
This entry about Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) (1622-1673) come from the Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia. Proveded on the web by. . .
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Although the sacred and secular authorities of 17th-century France often combined against him, the comic genius of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known as Molière, emerged finally to win him eventual acclaim as the greatest of all French writers. Comedy had a long history before Molière, who employed most of its traditional forms, but he succeeded in inventing a new style that was based on a double vision of normal and abnormal seen in relation to each other--the comedy of the true opposed to the specious, the intelligent seen alongside the pedantic. An actor himself, Molière seems to have been incapable of visualizing any situation without animating and dramatizing it, often beyond the limits of probability; though living in an age of reason, his own good sense led him not to proselytize but rather to animate the absurd, as in such masterpieces as Tartuffe, L'École des femmes, Le Misanthrope, and many others. It is testimony to the freshness of his vision that the greatest comic artists working centuries later in other media, such as Charlie Chaplin, are still compared to Molière.
"Molière" Britannica Online.
[Accessed 27 April 1998].
Molière was born (and died) in the heart of Paris. The registers
that he was baptized on January 15, 1622, as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. His
mother died when he was 10 years old; his father, one of the appointed
furnishers of the royal household, gave him a good education at the Collège
de Clermont (the school that, as the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, was to train so
many brilliant Frenchmen, including Voltaire). Although his father clearly
intended him to take over his royal appointment, the young man renounced
it in 1643, apparently determined to break with tradition and seek a living
on the stage. That year he joined with nine others to produce and play
comedy as a company under the name of the Illustre-Théâtre. His stage
name, Molière, is first found in a document dated June 28, 1644. He was
to give himself entirely to the theatre for 30 years and to die exhausted at
the age of 51.
A talented actress, Madeleine Béjart, persuaded Molière to
theatre, but she could not keep the young company alive and solvent. In
1645 Molière was twice sent to prison for debts on the building and
properties. The number of theatregoers in 17th-century Paris was small,
and the city already had two established theatres, so that a continued
existence must have seemed impossible to a young company. From the end
of 1645, for no fewer than 13 years, the troupe sought a living touring the
provinces. No history of these years is possible, though municipal registers
and church records show the company emerging here and there: in Nantes
in 1648, in Toulouse in 1649, and so on. They were in Lyon intermittently
from the end of 1652 to the summer of 1655 and again in 1657, at
Montpellier in 1654 and 1655, and at Béziers in 1656. Clearly they had their
ups as well as downs. These unchronicled years must have been of crucial
importance to Molière's career, forming as they did a rigorous
apprenticeship to his later work as actor-manager and teaching him how to
deal with authors, colleagues, audiences, and authorities. His rapid success
and persistence against opposition when he finally got back to Paris is
inexplicable without these years of training. His first two known plays date
from this time: L'Étourdi ou les contretemps (The Blunderer, 1762),
performed at Lyon in 1655, and Le Dépit amoureux (The Amorous
Quarrel , 1762), performed at Béziers in 1656.
The path to fame opened for him on the afternoon of October 24, 1658,
when, in the guardroom of the Louvre and on an improvised stage, the
company presented Corneille's Nicomède before the king, Louis XIV, and
followed it with what Molière described as one of those little
entertainments which had won him some reputation with provincial
audiences. This was Le Docteur amoureux ("The Amorous Doctor");
whether it was in the form still extant is doubtful. It apparently was a
success and secured the favour of the King's brother Philippe, duc
d'Orléans. It is difficult to know the extent of the Duc's patronage, which
lasted seven years, until the King himself took over the company known as
"Troupe du roi." No doubt the company gained a certain celebrity and
prestige, invitations to great houses, and subsidies (usually unpaid) to
actors, but not much more.
From the time of his return to Paris in 1658, all the reliable facts about
Molière's life have to do with his activity as author, actor, and manager.
Some French biographers have done their best to read his personal life into
his works, but at the cost of misconstruing what might have happened as
what did happen. The truth is that there is little information except legend
and satire. The fact that authors like Montaigne, Plutarch, Julius Caesar,
and Seneca may have been in his library (according to a legal inventory of
1708), for example, does not mean that his plays should be read with the
doctrines of such authors in mind.
Although unquestionably a great writer, Molière was not an author
usual sense: he wrote little that could be called literature or even that was
meant to be published--some poems and a translation of the ancient Latin
writings of Lucretius, incomplete. His plays were made for the stage, and
his early prefaces complain that he had to publish to avoid exploitation.
(Two of them were in fact pirated.) He left seven of his plays unpublished,
never issued any collected edition, and never (so far as is known) read
proofs or took care with his text. Comedies, in his view, were made to be
acted. This fact was forgotten in the 19th century. It took such
20th-century actors as Louis Jouvet, Charles Dullin, Jean-Louis Barrault,
and Jean Vilar to present a new and exact sense of his dramatic genius.
Nor was he at all a classical author, with leisure to plan and write as
would. Competition, the fight for existence, was the keynote of Molière's
whole career. To keep his actors and his audiences was an unremitting
struggle against other theatres. He won this contest almost single-handed.
He held his company together by his technical competence and force of
Molière's first Paris play, Les Précieuses ridicules (The
Ladies), prefigured what was to come. It centres on two provincial girls
who are exposed by valets masquerading as masters in scenes that
contrast, on the one hand, the girls' desire for elegance coupled with a lack
of common sense and, on the other, the valets' plain speech seasoned with
cultural clichés. The girls' fatuities, which they consider the height of wit,
suggest their warped view of culture in which material things are of no
account. The fun at the expense of these affected people is still refreshing
and must have been even more so for the first spectators.
Les Précieuses, as well as Sganarelle (first performed in October,
probably had its premiere at the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon, a great house
adjacent to the Louvre. The Petit-Bourbon was demolished (apparently
without notice), and the company moved early in 1661 to a hall in the
Palais-Royal, built as a theatre by Richelieu. Here it was that all Molière's
"Paris" plays were staged, starting with Dom Garcie de Navarre, ou le
prince jaloux in February 1661, a heroic comedy of which much was
hoped; it failed on the stage and succeeded only in inspiring Molière to
work on Le Misanthrope. Such failures were rare and eclipsed by
successes greater than the Paris theatre had known.
Scandals and successes.
The first night of L'École des femmes (The School for Wives), December
26, 1662, caused a scandal as if people suspected that here was an
emergence of a comic genius that regarded nothing as sacrosanct. Some
good judges have thought this to be Molière's masterpiece, as pure
comedy as he ever attained. Based on Paul Scarron's version (La
Précaution inutile, 1655) of a Spanish story, it presents a pedant,
Arnolphe, who is so frightened of femininity that he decides to marry a girl
entirely unacquainted with the ways of the world. The delicate portrayal in
this girl of an awakening temperament, all the stronger for its absence of
convention, is a marvel of comedy. Molière crowns his fantasy by
showing his pedant falling in love with her, and his elephantine gropings
toward lovers' talk are both his punishment and the audience's delight.
From 1662 onward the Palais-Royal theatre was shared by Italian actors,
each company taking three playing days in each week. Molière also
wrote plays that were privately commissioned and thus first performed
elsewhere: Les Fâcheux (The Impertinents, 1732) at Vaux in August
1661; the first version of Tartuffe at Versailles in 1664; Le Bourgeois
Gentilhomme at Chambord in 1670; and Psyché in the Tuileries Palace in
On February 20, 1662, Molière married Armande Béjart. It
is not certain
whether she was Madeleine's sister, as the documents state, or her
daughter, as some contemporaries suggest. There were three children of
the marriage; only a daughter survived to maturity. It was not a happy
marriage; flirtations of Armande are indicated in hostile pamphlets, but
there is almost no reliable information.
Molière cleverly turned the outcry produced by L'École des
the credit of the company by replying to his critics on the stage. La
Critique de L'École des femmes in June 1663 and L'Impromptu de
Versailles in October were both single-act discussion plays. In La
Critique Molière allowed himself to express some principles of his new
style of comedy, and in the other play he made theatre history by
reproducing with astonishing realism the actual greenroom, or actors'
lounge, of the company and the backchat involved in rehearsal.
The quarrel of L'École des femmes was itself outrun in violence
scandal by the presentation of the first version of Tartuffe in May 1664.
The history of this great play sheds much light on the conditions in which
Molière had to work and bears a quite remarkable testimony to his
persistence and capacity to show fight. He had to wait five years and risk
the livelihood of his actors before his reward, which proved to be the
greatest success of his career. Most men would surely have given up the
struggle: from the time of the first performance of what was probably the
first three acts of the play as it is now known, many must have feared that
the Roman Catholic Church would never allow its public performance.
(see also Index: "Imposter, The," )
Undeterred, Molière made matters worse by staging a version of Dom
Juan, ou le festin de Pierre with a spectacular ending in which an atheist
is committed to hell--but only after he had amused and scandalized the
audience. Dom Juan was meant to be a quick money raiser, but it was a
costly failure, mysteriously removed after 15 performances and never
performed again or published by Molière. It is a priceless example of his
art. The central character, Dom Juan, carries the aristocratic principle to
its extreme by disclaiming all types of obligation, either to parents or
doctors or tradesmen or God. Yet he assumes that others will fulfill their
obligations to him. His servant, Sganarelle, is imagined as his opposite in
every point, earthy, timorous, superstitious. These two form the perfect
French counterpart to Don Quixote and Sancho.
Harassment by the authorities.
While engaged in his battles against the authorities, Molière continued
hold his company together single-handedly. He made up for lack of authors
by writing more plays himself. He could never be sure either of actors or
authors. In 1664 he put on the first play of Jean Racine, La Thébaïde, but
the next year Racine transferred his second play, Alexandre le Grand, to
a longer established theatre while Molière's actors were actually
performing it. He was constantly harassed by the authorities. These
setbacks may have been offset in part by the royal favour conferred upon
Molière, but royal favour was capricious. Pensions were often promised
and not paid. The court wanted more light plays than great works. The
receipts of his theatre were uncertain and fluctuating. In his 14 years in
Paris, Molière wrote 31 of the 95 plays that were presented on his stage.
To meet the cumulative misfortunes of his own illness, the closing of the
theatre for seven weeks upon the death of the Queen Mother, and the
proscription of Tartuffe and Dom Juan, he wrote five plays in one season
(1666-67). Of the five, only one, Le Médecin malgré lui (The Doctor in
Spite of Himself, 1914), was a success. (see also Index: "Thébaïde ou les
frères ennemis, La")
In the preceding season, however, Le Misanthrope, almost from the start,
was treated as a masterpiece by discerning playgoers, if not by the entire
public. It is a drawing-room comedy, without known sources, constructed
from the elements of Molière's own company. Molière himself played
the role of Alceste, a fool of a new kind, with high principles and rigid
standards, yet by nature a blind critic of everybody else. Alceste is in love
with Célimène (played by Molière's wife, Armande), a superb comic
creation, equal to any and every occasion, the incarnate spirit of society.
The structure of the play is as simple as it is poetic. Alceste storms
moodily through the play, finding no "honest" men to agree with him,
always ready to see the mote in another's eye, blind to the beam in his
own, as ignorant of his real nature as a Tartuffe.
The church nearly won its battle against Molière: it prevented public
performance, both of Tartuffe for five years and of Dom Juan for the
whole of Molière's life. A five-act version of Tartuffe was played in
1667, but once only: it was banned by the President of Police and by the
Archbishop on pain of excommunication. Molière's reply was to lobby the
King repeatedly, even in a military camp, and to publish a defense of his
play called Lettre sur la comédie de l'Imposteur. He kept his company
together through 1668 with Amphitryon (January 13), George Dandin
(Versailles, July 18), and L'Avare (September 9). Sooner or later so
original an author of comedy as Molière was bound to attempt a modern
sketch of the ancient comic figure of the miser. The last of his three 1668
plays, L'Avare, is composed in prose that reads like verse; the stock
situations are all recast, but the spirit is different from Molière's other
works and not to everyone's taste. His miser is a living paradox, inhuman in
his worship of money, all too human in his need of respect and affection. In
breathtaking scenes his mania is made to suggest cruelty, pathological
loneliness, even insanity. The play is too stark for those who expect
laughter from comedy; Goethe started the dubious fashion of calling it
tragic. Yet, as before, forces of mind and will are made to serve inhuman
ends and are opposed by instinct and a very "human" nature. The basic
comic suggestion is one of absurdity and incongruity rather than of gaiety.
(see also Index: "Avare, L' ," )
His second play of 1668, George Dandin, often dismissed as a farce, may
be one of Molière's greatest creations. It centres on a fool, who admits
his folly while suggesting that wisdom would not help him because, if things
in fact go against us, it is pointless to be wise. As it happens he is in the
right, but he can never prove it. The subject of the play is trivial, the
suggestion is limitless; it sketches a new range of comedy altogether. In
1669, permission was somehow obtained, and the long run of Tartuffe at
last began. More than 60 performances were given that year alone. The
theme for this play, which brought Molière more trouble than any other,
may have come to him when a local hypocrite seduced his landlady. Of the
three versions of the play, only the last has survived; the first (presented in
three acts played before the King in 1664) probably portrayed a pious
crook so firmly established in a bourgeois household that the master
promises him his daughter and disinherits his son. At the time it was
common for lay directors of conscience to be placed in families to reprove
and reform conduct. When this "holy" man is caught making love to his
employer's wife, he recovers by masterly self-reproach and persuades the
master not only to pardon him but also to urge him to see as much of his
wife as possible. Molière must have seen even greater comic possibilities
in this theme, for he made five acts out of it. The final version contains two
seduction scenes and a shift of interest to the comic paradox in Tartuffe
himself, posing as an inhuman ascetic while by nature he is an
all-too-human lecher. It is difficult to think of a theme more likely to offend
pious minds. Like Arnolphe in L'École des femmes, Tartuffe seems to
have come to grief because he trusted in wit and forgot instinct.
The struggle over Tartuffe probably exhausted Molière to the point
he was unable to stave off repeated illness and supply new plays; he had,
in fact, just four years more to live. Yet he produced in 1669 Monsieur de
Pourceaugnac for the King at Chambord and in 1670 Le Bourgeois
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme treated a contemporary theme--social
climbing among the bourgeois, or upper middle class--but it is perhaps the
least dated of all his comedies. The protagonist Jourdain, rather than being
an unpleasant sycophant, is as delightful as he is fatuous, as genuine as he
is naïve; his folly is embedded in a bountiful disposition, which he of course
despises. This is comedy in Molière's happiest vein: the fatuity of the
masculine master is offset by the common sense of wife and servant.
Continuing to write despite his illness, he produced Psyché and
Fourberies de Scapin (The Cheats of Scapin, 1677) in 1671. Les
Femmes savantes (The Blue-Stockings, 1927) followed in 1672; in
rougher hands this subject would have been (as some have thought it) a
satire on bluestockings, but Molière has imagined a sensible bourgeois
who goes in fear of his masterful and learned wife. Le Malade
imaginaire (first performed 1673; Eng. trans., The Imaginary Invalid),
about a hypochondriac who fears death and doctors, was Molière's last
play. It is a powerful play in its delineation of medical jargon and
professionalism, in the fatuity of a would-be doctor with learning and no
sense, in the normality of the young and sensible lovers, as opposed to the
superstition, greed, and charlatanry of other characters. During the fourth
performance of the play, on February 17, 1673, Molière collapsed on
stage and was carried back to his house in the rue de Richelieu to die. As
he had not been given the sacraments or the opportunity of formally
renouncing the actor's profession, he was buried without ceremony and
after sunset on February 21.
Molière as actor and as playwright.
Molière's acting had been both his disappointment and his glory.
aspired to be a tragic actor, but contemporary taste was against him. His
public seemed to favour a tragic style that was pompous, with ranting and
roaring, strutting and chanting. Molière had the build, the elasticity, the
india-rubber face, as it has been called, of the born comedian. Offstage he
was neither a great talker nor particularly merry, but he would mime and
copy speech to the life. He had the tireless energy of the actor. He was
always ready to make a scene out of an incident, to put himself on a stage.
He gave one of his characters his own cough and another his own moods,
and he made a play out of actual rehearsals. The characters of his greatest
plays are like the members of his company. It was quite appropriate that
he should die while playing the part of the sick man that he really was.
The actor in him influenced his writing, since he wrote (at speed) what
could most naturally act. He gave himself choleric parts, servants' parts, a
henpecked husband, a foolish bourgeois, and a superstitious old man who
cursed "that fellow Molière." (The comparison with Charlie Chaplin
recurs constantly.) Something more than animal energy and a talent for
mime was at work in him, a quality that can only be called intensity of
dramatic vision. Here again actors have helped to recover an aspect of his
genius that the scholars had missed, his stage violence. To take his plays as
arguments in favour of reason is to miss their vitality. His sense of reason
leads him to animate the absurd. His characters are imagined as excitable
and excited to the point of incoherence. He sacrifices plot to drama,
vivacity, a sense of life. He is a classical writer, yet he is ready to defy all
rules of writing.
To think of Molière as a cool apostle of reason, sharing the views
more rational men of his plays, is a heresy that dies hard; but careful
scrutiny of the milieu in which Molière had to work makes it impossible to
believe. The comedies are not sermons; such doctrine as may be extracted
from them is incidental and at the opposite pole from didacticism. Ideas are
expressed to please a public, not to propagate the author's view. If asked
what he thought of hypocrisy or atheism, he would have marvelled at the
question and evaded it with the observation that the theatre is not the place
for "views." There is no documentary evidence that Molière ever tried to
convey his own opinions on marriage, on the church, on hell, or on class
distinctions. Strictly speaking, his views of these things are unknown. All
that is known is that he worked for and in the theatre and used his amazing
power of dramatic suggestion to vivify any imagined scene. If he has left a
sympathetic picture of an atheist, it was not to recommend free thought: his
picture of the earthy serving man is no less vivid, no less sympathetic.
Scholars who have tried to make his plays prove things or to convey
lessons have made little sense of his work and have been blind to its
inherent fantasy and imaginative power.
Since the power of Molière's writing seems to lie in its creative
language, the traditional divisions of his works into comedies of manners,
comedies of character, and farce are not helpful: he does not appear to
have set out in any instance to write a certain kind of play. He starts from
an occasion in Le Mariage forcé (1664; The Forced Marriage, 1762)
from doubts about marriage expressed by Rabelais's character Panurge,
and in Le Médecin malgré lui he starts from a medieval fable, or fabliau,
of a woodcutter who, to avoid a beating, pretends he is a doctor. On such
skeleton themes Molière animates figures or arranges discussion in which
one character exposes another or the roles are first expressed and then
reversed. It is intellectual rhythm rather than what happens, the discussion
more than the story, that conveys the charm, so that to recount the plot
may be to omit the essential.
His unique sense of the comic.
The attacks on Molière gave him the chance in his responses to state
some aesthetic home truths. Thus, in La Critique de L'École des femmes,
he states that tragedy might be heroic, but comedy must hold the mirror up
to nature: "You haven't achieved anything in comedy unless your portraits
can be seen to be living types . . . making decent people laugh is a strange
business." And as for the rules that some were anxious to impose on
writers: "I wonder if the golden rule is not to give pleasure and if a
successful play is not on the right track." (see also Index: art, philosophy
The attacks on L'École des femmes were child's play in comparison
the storm raised by Tartuffe and Dom Juan. The attacks on them also
drew from the poet a valuable statement of artistic principle. On Dom
Juan he made no public reply since it was never officially condemned. The
documents in defense of Tartuffe are two placets, or petitions, to the King,
the preface to the first edition of 1669 (all these published over Molière's
own name), and the Lettre sur la comédie de l'Imposteur of 1667. The
placets and preface are aesthetically disappointing, since Molière was
forced to fight on ground chosen by his opponents and to admit that
comedy must be didactic. (There is no other evidence that Molière
thought this, so it is not unfair to assume that he used the argument only
when forced.) The Lettre is much more important. It expresses in a few
pregnant lines the aesthetic basis not only of Tartuffe but of Molière's
new concept of comedy:
The comic is the outward and visible form that nature's
bounty has attached to everything unreasonable, so that we
should see, and avoid, it. To know the comic we must know
the rational, of which it denotes the absence and we must see
wherein the rational consists . . . incongruity is the heart of
the comic . . . it follows that all lying, disguise, cheating,
dissimulation, all outward show different from the reality, all
contradiction in fact between actions that proceed from a
single source, all this is in essence comic.
Molière seems here to put his finger on what was new in his notion
what is comic: a comedy, only incidentally funny, that is based on a
constant double vision of wise and foolish, right and wrong seen together,
side by side. This is his invention and his glory.
A main feature of Molière's technique is a mixing of registers,
contexts. Characters are made to play a part, then forget it, speak out of
turn, overplay their role, so that those who watch this byplay constantly
have the suggestion of mixed registers. The starting point of Le Médecin
malgré lui, the idea of beating a man to make him pretend he is a doctor,
is certainly not subtle, but Molière plays with the idea, makes his
woodcutter enjoy his new experience, master the jargon, and then not
know what to do with it. He utters inanities about Hippocrates, is overjoyed
to find a patient ignorant of Latin, so that he need not bother about
meaning. He looks for the heart on the wrong side and, undeterred by
having his error recognized, sweeps aside the protest with the immortal:
"We have changed all that." The miser robbed of his money is pathetic, but
he does not arouse emotions because his language leads him to the absurd
" . . . it's all over . . . I'm dying, I'm dead, I'm buried." He demands justice
with such intemperance that his language exceeds all reason and he
threatens to put the courts in the court. Molière's Misanthrope is even
more suggestive in his confusion of justice as an ideal and as a social
institution: "I have justice on my side and I lose my case!" What to him is a
scandal of world order is to others just proof that he is wrongheaded. Such
concision does Molière's dramatic speech achieve.
A French genius.
When Voltaire described Molière as "the painter of France," he suggested
the range of French attitudes found in the plays, and this may explain why
the French have developed a proprietary interest in a writer whom they
seem to regard in a special sense as their own. They stress aspects of his
work that others tend to overlook. Three of these are noteworthy.
First, formality permeates all his works. He never gives realism--life
is--alone, but always within a pattern and a form that fuse light and
movement, music and dance and speech. Modern productions that omit the
interludes in his plays stray far from the original effect. Characters are
grouped, scenes and even speeches are arranged, comic repartee is
rounded off in defiance of realism.
Second, the French stress the poetry where foreigners
They take the plays not as studies of social mania but as patterns of
fantasy that take up ideas, only to drop them when a point has been made.
Le Misanthrope is not considered as a case study or a French Hamlet but
as a subtly arranged chorus of voices and attitudes that convey a critique
of individualism. The play charms by its successive evocations of its
central theme. The tendency to speak one's mind is seen to be many
things: idealistic or backbiting or rude or spiteful or just fatuous. It is in this
fantasy playing on the mystery of self-centredness in society that Molière
is in the eyes of his own people unsurpassed.
A third quality admired in France is his intellectual penetration in
distinguishing the parts of a man from the whole man. Montaigne, the
16th-century essayist who deeply influenced Molière, divided qualities
that are acquired, such as learning or politeness or skills, from those that
are natural, such as humanity or animality, what might be called "human
nature" without other attributes. Molière delighted in opposing his
characters in this way; often in his plays a social veneer peels off,
revealing a real man. Many of his dialogues start with politeness and end in
Molière opposed wit to nature in many forms. His comedy embraces
things within the mind and beyond it; reason and fact seldom meet. As the
beaten servant in Amphitryon observes: "That conflicts with common
sense. But it is so, for all that." (W.G.Mo./Ed.)
"Molière" Britannica Online.
[Accessed 27 April 1998].
Les Précieuses ridicules (first performed 1659, published
1660; trans. by B.H. Clark, The Affected Young Ladies, 1915); L'École
des femmes (1663; trans. by the Earl of Longford, The School for Wives,
1948; and by M. Malleson, 1954); Le Tartuffe, ou l'imposteur (first version
1664, present version 1669; trans. by M. Malleson, The Imposter, 1950);
DomJuan, ou le festin de Pierre (1665; trans. by J. Ozell as Don John;
or, The Libertine, 1665 and rev. and augmented by O. Mandell, 1963); Le
Misanthrope (first performed 1666, 1667; adapted by W. Wycherly, The Plain-Dealer,
1677; trans. by M. Malleson, 1955); L'Avare (1669; trans.
by H. Fielding as The Miser, 1733; by M. Malleson, 1950; and by K.
Cartledge, 1962, with the same title); Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670;
trans. by M. Malleson, The Prodigious Snob, 1952); Les Femmes
savantes (1672; trans. by V. Beringer and M. Down, The
Blue-Stockings, 1927); Le Malade imaginaire (1674; trans. as The
Imaginary Invalid by B.H. Clark, 1925; by M. Malleson, 1959; and B.
Briscoe, 1967; and as The Hypochondriac by H. Baker and J. Miller,
Collected editions of Molière's works include those by C. VARLET
LA GRANGE, 8 vol. (1682); by M.A. JOLLY, 6 vol. (1734); by EUGÈNE
DESPOIS and PAUL MESNARD in the "Grands Écrivains de la France
Series," 13 vol. (1873-1900); by RENÉ BRAY in the "Belles Lettres
Series," 8 vol. (1935-52); by GUSTAVE MICHAUT, 11 vol. (1949); by
ROBERT JOUANNY in the "Garnier Series," 2 vol. (1962); and by
GEORGES COUTON in the "Pléiade Series," 2 vol. (1971). Among
editions of particular plays those of L'Avare by CHARLES DULLIN
(1946), of Le Malade imaginaire by PIERRE VALDE (1946), of
Tartuffe by FERNAND LEDOUX (1953), and of Le Misanthrope by
GUSTAVE RUDLER (1947) deserve special mention.
Earlier literature is superseded by GUSTAVE MICHAUT, La Jeunesse
de Molière (1922, reprinted 1968), Les Débuts de Molière à Paris (1923,
reissued 1968), and Les Luttes de Molière (1925, reissued 1968). See also
JOHN L. PALMER, Molière: His Life and Works (1930, reprinted
1970); GUSTAVE MICHAUT (ed.), Molière: raconté par ceux qui
l'ont vu (1932); GEORGES MONGRÉDIEN, La Vie privée de Molière
(1950); GERTRUD MANDER, Moliere (1973; originally published in
German, 1967); and RENÉ BRAY, Molière, homme de théâtre, new ed.
(1963, reissued 1972). Official documents have been collected in
MADELEINE JURGENS and ELIZABETH MAXFIELD-MILLER,
Cent Ans de recherches sur Molière, sur sa famille et sur les
comédiens de sa troupe (1963).
HENRY C. LANCASTER, A History of French Dramatic Literature in
the Seventeenth Century, pt. 3 (1936, reprinted 1966); ANTOINE
ADAM, Historie de la littérature française au XVIIe siècle, vol. 3
(1956); PIERRE MÉLÈSE, Le Théâtre et le public à Paris sous Louis
XIV (1934, reprinted 1976); THEODORE VAN VREE, Les Pamphlets et
libelles littéraires contre Molière (1933); and BURT E. and GRACE P.
YOUNG (eds.), Le Registre de La Grange, 2 vol. (1947, reprinted 1977).
On particular plays, see ANTOINE ADAM, "La Genèse des 'Précieuses
ridicules,' " Revue d'histoire de la philosophie et d'histoire générale da
le civilisation, 14-16 (January-March 1939); JACQUES ARNAVON, Le
Misanthrope de Molière (1930, reprinted 1970), and L'École des femmes
de Molière (1936); and RENÉ JASINKI, Molière et le Misanthrope
(1951, reissued 1970).
PAUL F. SAINTONGE and R.W. CHRIST, Fifty Years of Molière
Studies: A Bibliography, 1892-1941 (1942, reissued 1977); ROGER
JOHNSON, EDITHA S. NEUMANN, and GUY T. TRAIL (eds.),
Molière and the Commonwealth of Letters (1975), a study that includes
Paul Saintonge's "Thirty Years of Molière Studies: A Bibliography,
1942-1971"; LAURENCE ROMERO, Molière: Traditions in Criticism,
1900-1970 (1974); WILL G. MOORE, Molière: A New Criticism (1949,
reprinted 1973); JACQUES GUICHARNAUD, Molière, une aventure
théâtrale. Tartuffe, Dom Juan, Le Misanthrope (1963); HAROLD C.
KNUTSON, Molière: An Archetypal Approach (1976); and
NICHOLAS GRENE, Shakespeare, Jonson, Molière: The Comic
Contract (1980), a comparative study.
"Molière: Bibliography" Britannica Online.
[Accessed 27 April 1998].