Studies in Self-Interest: From Descartes to La Bruyere

By A. J. Krailsheimer | Go to book overview
Save to active project


FOR all the excellence of the comedies with which Corneille first made his name, it is indisputably as a writer of tragedies that he occupies so eminent a position in the history of literature. Molière, too, had tried other paths before he found his highway to fulfilment, and though as a tragic author and writer of heroic comedies he knew more disappointments than success, this diversity of experience certainly contributed to the perfection of his comic masterpieces. It is this common variety of experience, as well as their common genius, which makes a comparison between the two at all possible; in fact, in so far as any generalizations are useful, it is more appropriate to consider Corneille with Molière than with Racine as the representative writers of their respective ages. At the height of their success they both enjoyed public as well as royal approval in the highest degree, and to that extent may be taken to reflect the point of view of a wide section of society. As for influence, this is harder to assess, but it was Molière's aim, as he says, to affect conduct by the portrayal of vices, and it is hard to believe that the message of his great comedies met with no response.

It is not just as an actor-author-manager with a sense of theatre second not even to Shakespeare's, but as a delineator of human problems that Molière continues to command respect and, above all, to entertain audiences. His farces, his Sganarelle and Scapin, may still raise a laugh, but it is those comedies which provoke thought which remain the most successful. All these, from his first great success l'École des femmes, to his last, le Malade imaginaire deal with monomaniacs and their impact on the society around them. Here, in a most forceful though perhaps unexpected way, the problem of the 'moi désaxé' is given the principal role, and in his treatment and solution of the problem Molière is as profound as any of the other authors studied. In comedy one would not look for metaphysical speculations of a formal kind, but none the less they are implicitly present in Molière's work, and a quite


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Studies in Self-Interest: From Descartes to La Bruyere


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 222

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?