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Tartuffe and the Bourgeois Gentleman/Le Tartuffe Et Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme: A Dual-Language Book

Tartuffe and the Bourgeois Gentleman/Le Tartuffe Et Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme: A Dual-Language Book

by Moliere, Stanley Appelbaum (Editor), Stanley Applebaum (Editor), Stanley Appelbaum

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Often called the "Father of French Comedy," Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622–1673) was a master at exposing the foibles and complexities of humanity in plays notable for their dramatic construction, varied and diverse humor, and subtlety of psychological observation. This convenient dual-language volume contains the original French texts and English


Often called the "Father of French Comedy," Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622–1673) was a master at exposing the foibles and complexities of humanity in plays notable for their dramatic construction, varied and diverse humor, and subtlety of psychological observation. This convenient dual-language volume contains the original French texts and English translations of two of Molière's most praised and popular comedies: Tartuffe and The Bourgeois Gentleman. These timeless theatrical works by one of France's greatest and most influential playwrights can be appreciated not only by students of French language and literature but by any aficionado of classic comedy.
Tartuffe, a 1664 verse comedy with serious overtones, concerns a scoundrel who impersonates a holy man in order to acquire his gullible host's property and wife. The prose farce The Bourgeois Gentleman, an instant success at its 1670 debut, lampoons the hypocrisy of 17th-century Parisian society with a central character who attempts to adopt the superficial manners, accomplishments, and speech associated with the nobility. Both plays abound in humor, the quips of saucy servants, and a host of satirical plot devices.
For this edition, Stanley Appelbaum has provided an informative introduction to the playwright and the plays, and excellent literal English translations on facing pages, offering students an ideal opportunity both to refine their French-language skills and to enjoy Molière in his own words.

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Dover Publications
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Dover Dual Language French Series
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5.44(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.79(d)

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Tartuffe and The Bourgeois Gentleman Le Tartuffe e Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

A Dual-Language Book


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-40438-7



SCENE 1,—Madame Pernelle, Elmire, Mariane, Cléante, Damis, Dorine, Flipote.

MADAME PERNELLE Let's go, Flipote, let's go, so I can be rid of them!

ELMIRE You're walking so fast we can hardly keep up with you.

MADAME PERNELLE Leave off, daughter-in-law, leave off; come no further; All this is ceremony I can do without.

ELMIRE We're only performing the duties we owe you. But, mother, why is it you're leaving so quickly?

MADAME PERNELLE It's because I can't watch the way this house is run, And no one here gives any thought to pleasing me. Yes, I'm carrying away a very bad impression from your home; No matter what I try to teach you here, I'm thwarted; There's no respect for anything here, everyone yells out loud, And all I can call the place is Liberty Hall.


MADAME PERNELLE You, my good woman, are a lady's maid Who's a little too talkative and quite impertinent; You stick your nose in to give your opinion about everything.

DAMIS But ...

MADAME PERNELLE You, my boy, are a downright fool: It's I telling you this, I, your grandmother, And I've predicted a hundred times to my son, your father, That you were turning out just like a wicked scapegrace, And would never give him anything but grief.

MARIANE I think ...

MADAME PERNELLE Heavens! You, his sister, act like a quiet girl, And you seem so very gentle that butter wouldn't melt in your mouth, But, as the saying goes, still waters are the most dangerous, And under cover you're leading a life that I detest.

ELMIRE But, mother ...

MADAME PERNELLE Daughter-in-law, don't take it badly, But all of your conduct is totally wrong: You ought to set a good example in their eyes, And their dear departed mother behaved much better. You're a spendthrift, and your ostentation hurts me, When I see you going around dressed like a princess. Whoever wants to please her husband only, Daughter-in-law, doesn't need all that finery.

CLÉANTE But, madame, after all ...

MADAME PERNELLE As for you, her brother, I think very well of you, I like you and respect you; But, when it comes right down to it, if I were my son, her husband, I'd strongly urge you never to visit us. You ceaselessly proclaim guidelines about how to live That shouldn't be followed by honest folk. I'm speaking to you a little frankly, but that's my nature, And I come right out and say what's on my mind.

DAMIS Your monsieur Tartuffe is no doubt very lucky ...

MADAME PERNELLE He's a good man who ought to be heeded, And I can't abide it without getting angry When I see him accused by a madcap like you.

DAMIS What! Am I, I, to allow a sanctimonious carper To come into our house and fraudulently acquire a tyrannical power, While we're unable to have any enjoyment If that fine gentleman doesn't deign to consent to it?

DORINE If we must heed him and believe his maxims, We can't do a thing without committing a crime: Because he checks up on everything, that eager critic.

MADAME PERNELLE And everything he checks is very well checked. It's on the road to heaven that he desires to lead you, And my son ought to persuade all of you to love him.

DAMIS No, look here, grandmother, neither a father nor anyone else Can force me to wish him well. If I spoke otherwise, I'd be betraying my heart; I get furious each and every time at his mode of behavior; I foresee a dire consequence, and that I'll have to Come to some big blowup with that hayseed.

DORINE Surely, it's also a shocking thing To see a total stranger making himself master of the house; To see a beggar, who had no shoes when he arrived, And whose whole outfit was worth about six farthings, Reaching the point of forgetting who he is, Contradicting everything and lording it over us.

MADAME PERNELLE Ho! Mercy on me, it would be much better If everything went in accordance with his pious orders!

DORINE He seems to be a saint in your imagination: Believe me, all his actions are nothing but hypocrisy.

MADAME PERNELLE What a mouth on you!

DORINE I wouldn't trust him, Or his Laurent, either, unless they had some good man vouching for them.

MADAME PERNELLE I don't know what his servant is really like, But I guarantee that the master is a virtuous man. You only wish him ill and reject him Because he tells you all just what he thinks about you. It's in order to combat sin that his heart grows angry, And the interests of heaven are his only motive.

DORINE Fine; but why, especially in the last while, Can't he abide for us to have any guests? In what way does an honorable visit offend heaven For him to raise a row over it that splits our head? Would you like my explanation of that, among ourselves? ... (Indicating Elmire:) I sincerely believe he's jealous over madame.

MADAME PERNELLE Be still, and think about what you say. He's not the only one who finds fault with those visits: All the bother connected with the people you see, Those carriages constantly standing at the door, And the noisy gathering of all those lackeys, Cause an undesirable scandal in the whole neighborhood. I'm willing to believe that there's no basic harm in it, But people do talk about it, and that's not right.

CLÉANTE Ah, madame, do you want to stop people from gossiping? It would be an unfortunate thing in life If, on account of the foolish talk there might be about you, You had to give up your best friends; And even if you could make up your mind to do it, Do you think you could force everyone to keep quiet? Against backbiting there's no protection. So, let's pay no attention to any silly chatter, Let's strive to live as blamelessly as we can, And let the gossips have their own way entirely.

DORINE Our neighbor Daphne and her little husband— Wouldn't they be the ones who speak ill of us? Those whose conduct is the most laughable Are always the first to criticize others; They never fail to snatch promptly at The palest glimmer of the mildest show of affection, To spread the news around with the greatest joy And to give it the slant they want people to believe. They try to justify their own behavior in society By that of others who are dipped in the same dye, And, in the false hope of some resemblance, To lend an air of innocence to their own intrigues, Or to shift onto others some share Of that public blame with which they're all too heavily loaded.

MADAME PERNELLE All this reasoning is beside the point: It's well known that Orante leads an exemplary life; Her only thought is for heaven; and people have told me She strongly reproves the ways of this household.

DORINE A wonderful example, and a fine woman! It's true that she lives like an austere person; But old age has planted that ardent religion in her soul, And it's well known that, if she's a prude, it's against her will. As long as she was able to attract the attention of lovers, She made the very best use of all her advantages; But, seeing all the brightness of her eyes grow dim, She wishes to renounce society, which is abandoning her, And to disguise the powerlessness of her worn-out charms Beneath the pompous veil of a lofty propriety. Those are the tricks of the coquettes of our day. It's hard for them to see their admirers desert them. In their solitude, their gloomy restlessness Sees no other recourse than the profession of prude, And the severity of those proper women Censures everything and pardons nothing: Loudly they find fault with the life of one and all, Not out of charity but out of a pang of envy That can't abide seeing another woman enjoy the pleasures Which their declining years deny to their own desires.

MADAME PERNELLE (to Elmire:) Those are the fairy tales you require for your satisfaction. Daughter-in-law, in your house people are forced to keep silent, Because this lady holds the floor all day long; But at last I wish to have my turn speaking. I tell you that my son never did anything wiser Than to take this pious person into his home; That heaven sent him here at a moment of need In order to set straight all your minds that have gone astray; That you ought to hear him out for your salvation, And that he blames nothing that isn't blameworthy. These visits, these dances, these conversations Are all inventions of the devil. One never hears pious words there, Nothing but idle talk, foolishness and nonsense. Very often our fellow creatures come off badly, And there's vicious gossip about third parties and fourth parties. Lastly, sensible people have their minds confused By the hubbub at such gatherings; A thousand different idle conversations take place in less than a minute, And, as a preacher said so well the other day, It's really and truly the tower of Babylon, Because everyone there babbles on and on; And, to tell the story that this remark led him to ... (Pointing to Cléante:) Don't I see this gentleman already sneering? Go find your jesters who make you laugh, (In the next line, she begins to address Elmire:) Without ... Good-bye, daughter-in-law, I'll say no more. Just know that I've lost half my esteem for this house, And that it'll be quite a while before I set foot in here again. (Slapping Flipote:) Come along, you! You're daydreaming and woolgathering. Lord! I'll make your ears warm for you. Let's go, slut, let's go!

MADAME PERNELLE Vous êtes, ma mie, une fille suivante, Un peu trop forte en gueule, et fort impertinente; Vous vous mêlez sur tout de dire votre avis.

DAMIS Mais ...

MADAME PERNELLE Vous êtes un sot en trois lettres, mon fils; C'est moi qui vous le dis, qui suis votre grand'mère; Et j'ai prédit cent fois à mon fils, votre père, Que vous preniez tout l'air d'un méchant garnement, Et ne lui donneriez jamais que du tourment.

MARIANE Je crois ...

MADAME PERNELLE Mon Dieu! sa sœur, vous faites la discrète, Et vous n'y touchez pas, tant vous semblez doucette; Mais il n'est, comme on dit, pire eau que l'eau qui dort, Et vous menez, sous chape, un train que je hais fort.

ELMIRE Mais, ma mère ...

MADAME PERNELLE Ma bru, qu'il ne vous en déplaise, Votre conduite, en tout, est tout à fait mauvaise: Vous devriez leur mettre un bon exemple aux yeux; Et leur défunte mère en usait beaucoup mieux. Vous êtes dépensière; et cet état me blesse, Que vous alliez vêtue ainsi qu'une princesse. Quiconque à son mari veut plaire seulement, Ma bru, n'a pas besoin de tant d'ajustement.

CLÉANTE Mais, madame, après tout ...

MADAME PERNELLE Pour vous, monsieur son frère, Je vous estime fort, vous aime, et vous révère; Mais enfin, si j'étais de mon fils son époux, Je vous prierais bien fort de n'entrer point chez nous. Sans cesse vous prêchez des maximes de vivre Qui par d'honnêtes gens ne se doivent point suivre. Je vous parle un peu franc; mais c'est là mon humeur, Et je ne mâche point ce que j'ai sur le cœur.

DAMIS Votre monsieur Tartuffe est bien heureux, sans doute ...

MADAME PERNELLE C'est un homme de bien qu'il faut que l'on écoute; Et je ne puis souffrir, sans me mettre en courroux, De le voir querellé par un fou comme vous.

DAMIS Quoi! je souffrirai, moi, qu'un cagot de critique Vienne usurper céans un pouvoir tyrannique; Et que nous ne puissions à rien nous divertir, Si ce beau monsieur-là n'y daigne consentir?

DORINE S'il le faut écouter, et croire à ses maximes, On ne peut faire rien, qu'on ne fasse des crimes; Car il contrôle tout, ce critique zélé.

MADAME PERNELLE Et tout ce qu'il contrôle est fort bien contrôlé. C'est au chemin du ciel qu'il prétend vous conduire: Et mon fils à l'aimer vous devrait tous induire.

DAMIS Mais voyez-vous, ma mère, il n'est père ni rien, Qui me puisse obliger à lui vouloir du bien: Je trahirais mon cœur de parler d'autre sorte, Sur ses façons de faire à tous coups je m'emporte: J'en prévois une suite, et qu'avec ce pied-plat Il faudra que j'en vienne à quelque grand éclat.

DORINE Certes, c'est une chose aussi qui scandalise De voir qu'un inconnu céans s'impatronise; Qu'un gueux, qui, quand il vint, n'avait pas de souliers, Et dont l'habit entier valait bien six deniers, En vienne jusque-là que de se méconnaître, De contrarier tout, et de faire le maître.

MADAME PERNELLE Eh! merci de ma vie, il en irait bien mieux Si tout se gouvernait par ses ordres pieux.

DORINE Il passe pour un saint dans votre fantaisie: Tout son fait, croyez-moi, n'est rien qu'hypocrisie.

MADAME PERNELLE Voyez la langue!

DORINE À lui, non plus qu'à son Laurent, Je ne me fierais, moi, que sur un bon garant.

MADAME PERNELLE J'ignore ce qu'au fond le serviteur peut être; Mais pour homme de bien je garantis le maître. Vous ne lui voulez mal et ne le rebutez Qu'à cause qu'il vous dit à tous vos vérités. C'est contre le péché que son cœur se courrouce, Et l'intérêt du ciel est tout ce qui le pousse.

DORINE Oui; mais pourquoi, surtout depuis un certain temps, Ne saurait-il souffrir qu'aucun hante céans? En quoi blesse le ciel une visite honnête, Pour en faire un vacarme à nous rompre la tête? Veut-on que là-dessus je m'explique entre nous? ... Montrant Elmire Je crois que de madame il est, ma foi, jaloux.

MADAME PERNELLE Taisez-vous, et songez aux choses que vous dites. Ce n'est pas lui tout seul qui blâme ces visites: Tout ce tracas qui suit les gens que vous hantez, Ces carrosses sans cesse à la porte plantés, Et de tant de laquais le bruyant assemblage, Font un éclat fâcheux dans tout le voisinage. Je veux croire qu'au fond il ne se passe rien; Mais enfin on en parle, et cela n'est pas bien.

CLÉANTE Eh! voulez-vous, madame, empêcher qu'on ne cause? Ce serait dans la vie une fâcheuse chose, Si, pour les sots discours où l'on peut être mis, Il fallait renoncer à ses meilleurs amis. Et, quand même on pourrait se résoudre à le faire, Croiriez-vous obliger tout le monde à se taire? Contre la médisance il n'est point de rempart. À tous les sots caquets n'ayons donc nul égard; Efforçons-nous de vivre avec toute innocence, Et laissons aux causeurs une pleine licence.

DORINE Daphné, notre voisine, et son petit époux, Ne seraient-ils point ceux qui parlent mal de nous? Ceux de qui la conduite offre le plus à rire Sont toujours sur autrui les premiers à médire: Ils ne manquent jamais de saisir promptement L'apparente lueur du moindre attachement, D'en semer la nouvelle avec beaucoup de joie, Et d'y donner le tour qu'ils veulent qu'on y croie; Des actions d'autrui, teintes de leurs couleurs, Ils pensent dans le monde autoriser les leurs, Et, sous le faux espoir de quelque ressemblance, Aux intrigues qu'ils ont donner de l'innocence, Ou faire ailleurs tomber quelques traits partagés De ce blâme public dont ils sont trop chargés.

MADAME PERNELLE Tous ces raisonnements ne font rien à l'affaire. On sait qu' Orante mène une vie exemplaire; Tous ses soins vont au ciel; et j'ai su, par des gens, Qu'elle condamne fort le train qui vient céans.

DORINE L'exemple est admirable, et cette dame est bonne! Il est vrai qu'elle vit en austère personne; Mais l'âge, dans son âme, a mis ce zèle ardent, Et l'on sait qu'elle est prude, à son corps défendant. Tant qu'elle a pu des cœurs attirer les hommages, Elle a fort bien joui de tous ses avantages; Mais, voyant de ses yeux tous les brillants baisser, Au monde qui la quitte elle veut renoncer, Et du voile pompeux d'une haute sagesse De ses attraits usés déguiser la faiblesse. Ce sont là les retours des coquettes du temps; Il leur est dur de voir déserter les galants. Dans un tel abandon, leur sombre inquiétude Ne voit d'autre recours que le métier de prude; Et la sévérité de ces femmes de bien Censure toute chose, et ne pardonne à rien. Hautement d'un chacun elles blâment la vie, Non point par charité, mais par un trait d'envie, Qui ne saurait souffrir qu'une autre ait les plaisirs Dont le penchant de l'âge a sevré leurs désirs.

MADAME PERNELLE, à Elmire Voilà les contes bleus qu'il vous faut, pour vous plaire, Ma bru. L'on est chez vous contrainte de se taire: Car madame, à jaser, tient le dé tout le jour. Mais enfin je prétends discourir à mon tour: Je vous dis que mon fils n'a rien fait de plus sage Qu'en recueillant chez soi ce dévot personnage; Que le ciel au besoin l'a céans envoyé Pour redresser à tous votre esprit fourvoyé; Que, pour votre salut, vous le devez entendre, Et qu'il ne reprend rien qui ne soit à reprendre. Ces visites, ces bals, ces conversations, Sont du malin esprit toutes inventions. Là, jamais on n'entend de pieuses paroles; Ce sont propos oisifs, chansons, et fariboles: Bien souvent le prochain en a sa bonne part, Et l'on y sait médire et du tiers et du quart. Enfin les gens sensés ont leurs têtes troublées De la confusion de telles assemblées; Mille caquets divers s'y font en moins de rien; Et, comme l'autre jour un docteur dit fort bien, C'est véritablement la tour de Babylone, Car chacun y babille, et tout du long de l'aune; Et, pour conter l'histoire où ce point l'engagea ... Montrant Cléante Voilà-t-il pas monsieur qui ricane déjà! Allez chercher vos fous qui vous donnent à rire, À Elmire Et sans ... Adieu, ma bru; je ne veux plus rien dire. Sachez que pour céans j'en rabats de moitié, Et qu'il fera beau temps quand j'y mettrai le pied. Donnant un soufflet à Flipote Allons, vous, vous rêvez et bayez aux corneilles. Jour de Dieu! je saurai vous frotter les oreilles. Marchons, gaupe, marchons.


Excerpted from Tartuffe and The Bourgeois Gentleman Le Tartuffe e Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière, STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 1998 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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