Moliere, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife by Mechele Leon, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Moliere, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife

Moliere, the French Revolution, and the Theatrical Afterlife

by Mechele Leon
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From 1680 until the French Revolution, when legislation abolished restrictions on theatrical enterprise, a single theatre held sole proprietorship of Molière’s 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

Overview

From 1680 until the French Revolution, when legislation abolished restrictions on theatrical enterprise, a single theatre held sole proprietorship of Molière’s 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 Molière, 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 nation’s new cultural memory.

Leon begins by analyzing the performance of Molière’s 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 Molière’s relationship to Louis XIV, Tartuffe, and the social function of his comedy, using Rousseau’s famous critique of Molière as well as appropriations of George Dandin in revolutionary iconography to discuss how Moliérean 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 Régime favorite to new national icon.

The great Molière 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 France—how the revolutionaries asserted his relevance for their tumultuous time in ways that were audacious, irreverent, imaginative, and extreme—Leon clarifies the important role of theatrical figures in preserving and portraying a nation’s history.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A rare mixture of happy idea and expert follow-through, Mechele Leon’s book is a well-written account of the fortunes of Molière’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, Molière: A Theatrical Life

“The creation, nurturing, and contestation of cultural memory is a compelling subject; it has obsessed French theatre ever since the emergence of the metteur en scène. Mechele Leon’s book presents the clearest conceptual map I have encountered of Molière’s trajectory through the chaotic period in which that cultural memory first began to take on the recognizable, constantly shifting contours that still animate French theatre. Leon’s book demonstrates how productive it can be to conduct a wide-ranging exploration of theatre history (especially production history) against a backdrop of a society that is undergoing enormous and painful change. Her work is so satisfying because she recognizes that none of the objects of her study remains even remotely stable under such conditions, a recognition that enables her to be unusually attentive to cultural forces operating in complex and often self-defeating ways. Her discussion of these forces is free of the historiographical prejudices that have led earlier scholars to advocate purportedly coherent interpretations of personalities and events about which the available historical record is fragmentary at best, when not completely silent.”— Jim Carmody, University of California-San Diego

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781587298219
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Series:
Studies Theatre Hist & Culture Series
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

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 XVIIIème siècle.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >