Moliere, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife

Moliere, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife

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From 1680 until the French Revolution, when legislation abolished restrictions on theatrical enterprise, a single theatre held sole proprietorship of Moli reOCOs works. After 1791, his plays were performed in new theatres all over Paris by new actors, before audiences new to his works. Both his plays and his image took on new dimensions. In Moli re, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife, Mechele Leon convincingly demonstrates how revolutionaries challenged the ties that bound this preeminent seventeenth-century comic playwright to the Old Regime and provided him with a place of honor in the nationOCOs new cultural memory. Leon begins by analyzing the performance of Moli reOCOs plays during the Revolution, showing how his privileged position as royal servant was disrupted by the practical conditions of the revolutionary theatre. Next she explores Moli reOCOs relationship to Louis XIV, Tartuffe, and the social function of his comedy, using RousseauOCOs famous critique of Moli re as well as appropriations of George Dandin in revolutionary iconography to discuss how Moli rean laughter was retooled to serve republican interests. After examining the profusion of plays dealing with his life in the latter years of the Revolution, she looks at the exhumation of his remains and their reentombment as the tangible manifestation of his passage from Ancien R(r)gime favorite to new national icon. The great Moli re is appreciated by theatre artists and audiences worldwide, but for the French people it is no exaggeration to say that the Father of French Comedy is part of their national soul. By showing how he was represented, reborn, and reburied in the new FranceOCohow the revolutionaries asserted his relevance for their tumultuous time in ways that were audacious, irreverent, imaginative, and extremeOCoLeon clarifies the important role of theatrical figures in preserving and portraying a nationOCOs historshow more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 198 pages
  • University of Iowa Press
  • Iowa City, United States
  • English
  • 1587298910
  • 9781587298912

Review quote

"A rare mixture of happy idea and expert follow-through, Mechele Leon's book is a well-written account of the fortunes of Moliere's plays during the French Revolution as well as of the early stages of his metamorphosis into a Great Man of France. Leon's slightly mordant wit is an added attraction for the many readers this book deserves."--Virginia Scott, author, " Moliere: A Theatrical Life"show more

About Mechele Leon

Mechele Leon is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Kansas. She has published essays in "French Historical Studies," the "European Studies Journal," "Theatre Journal," and "L'Autre au XVIIIeme siecle."show more