European Theories of the Drama: An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from Aristotle to the Present Day

By Barrett H. Clark | Go to book overview

FRENCH DRAMATIC CRITICISM OF THE SEVENTEENTH
CENTURY

While no very distinct line of demarcation can be drawn between the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries in French literary criticism, it is at least convenient to consider the sixteenth as marking the end of a stage in the development from the traditions of the middle ages and an important connecting link with the century in which the classic ideal received its final impetus in the Art Poétique of Boileau ( 1674). The main current was in favor of classicism, i.e., an adherence to the precepts, however misunderstood, of Aristotle and Horace; but from time to time there arose a voice in protest; Grévin and Laudun d'Aigaliers, among others, objected to the rigid Rules, and declared in favor of greater liberty. The same sort of protest was heard occasionally in the following century, from Ogier, in his Préface to Schélandre Tyr et Sidon ( 1628), from Hardy, rather by his practice, however, than in his prefaces; from Durval in his preface to Agarite ( 1636), from Molière later in the century; and from numerous others. But in spite of these more or less sporadic manifestos, the main current was rigidly classic. The earlier prefaces, like that of Pierre Troterel to his play Les Corrivaux ( 1612), of Maréschal to La Généreuse Allemande ( 1621), Isnard's preface to Pichou La Filis de Scire ( 1631), Gombauld to Amaranthe ( 1631), Jean de Mairet veritable Poetic prefixed to his Silvanire ( 1631), the occasional prefaces to Du Ryer's, Claveret's, and Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin's plays--all helped to pave the way for Jean Chapelain's many and oft-repeated pleas for the Unities, and the famous Cid Controversy. This controversy, which will be treated at greater length in connection with Chapelain, called forth a large number of pamphlets, for and against the young Corneille, whose "irregular" Cid, produced in 1636, was one of the most successful plays of the century. Georges de Scudéry Observations sur le Cid (published in 1637, when nearly all the controversial tracts appeared) was followed in quick succession by Faret (?) Deffense du Cid, further attacks and defenses by Corneille himself, Mairet, Scudéry again, Sorel, the anonymous Discours à Cliton, and finally by the Sentimens de l'Académie fran- çoise sur la tragi-comédie du Cid ( 1638), written principally and edited by Chapelain. Corneille Préfaces, Avertissements, and the like, begun in 1632 in Clitandre--were appearing meanwhile, but his most important critical and theoretical contributions, the Discours and Examens, were not printed until the edition of 1660. Other indications of the general trend of ideas on the drama may be found in works of less importance from the viewpoint of actual influence on contemporaries; in the Lettres of Chapelain and of Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, many of which are concerned with the question of the Rules and the Cid Controversy, while a single letter of Racan (to Ménage, 1654) registers another protest against the strict regulations of classicism. Following immediately upon the Cid controversy came Sarasin Discours sur la Tragédie ( 1639), a formal treatise founded upon Aristotelian principles, and, the next year, La Mesnardière Art Poétique, a pedantic and voluminous ultra-classic work. Another pedantic work, but of vaster importance and fame, appeared in 1657, the Pratique du théâtre, of François Abbé d'Aubignac Hédelin . This was the first work attempting to treat of the actual writing of plays, though the author more often than not strays from his professed purpose and theorizes at great length. Corneille, who had long struggled to reconcile his practice with his theory, and his theory with his practice, replied to d'Aubignac and his other

-115-

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
European Theories of the Drama: An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from Aristotle to the Present Day
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
/ 503

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.