Cover image for Molière : a theatrical life
Molière : a theatrical life
Scott, Virginia, 1934-2014.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK : Cambridge University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
ix, 333 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ1852 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PQ1852 .S44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In this biography, first published in 2000, Virginia Scott locates Molire's life and work in the social, literary and theatrical contexts of the period. She offers a narrative account of his life and an overview of his plays in the wider setting of the development of seventeenth-century French drama. Her research extends from Molire's boyhood and his Jesuit education at the Collge de Clermont, through the beginning of his theatrical career in Paris and as a vagabond actor in the provinces, to his days as a court dramatist under Louis XIV. He was a controversial playwright, striking out against hypocrisy in religion and medicine, and finally a cynical survivor of the literary, cultural, and marital wars. This full-length biography will appeal to the general reader as well as specialists in French and Theatre Studies.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

As the first substantive English-language biography of MoliŠre since 1930, this is a happy arrival for students of the theater and of French literature and culture. In spite of the intermittent lack of verifiable facts, MoliŠre's life reliably materializes as high drama, and Scott does not waste time trying to canonize refutable trifles. She makes the leaps necessary to create a strong narrative without sacrificing scholarship, and she paints her mischievous protagonist in front of a set of 17th-century France, magnificently evoked through vivid detail and fluid imagination. Born in 1622 to a bourgeois Parisian tapissier, or furniture merchant and upholsterer, MoliŠre took a law degree in 1642, but then disappointed his parents by forming the Illustre Theater and becoming an actor, playwright and libertine. One of the central mysteries of MoliŠre's life is his wife, Armande. She is sometimes identified as the illegitimate daughter of MoliŠre's former mistress, Madeline Bejart, and Scott agrees with that controversial conclusion, but notes that it is only partly because the information available "intersects coherently with that conjecture and creates credible character choices." Scott freely admits that the possibility also "stirs my imagination and produces a more interesting narrative." MoliŠre unwittingly made many enemies through his social satires. The church, the medical profession and the monarchy were among the many institutions lining up to ban MoliŠre's comic plays, though still he managed to prosper in a violent and restrictive age. He ended his days playing the lead role in his own play The Imaginary Invalid and was very nearly denied the right to be buried in holy ground, because of his failure to repent before God and church for a life misspent, as was believed of actors at the time. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Scott's well-documented and very readable biography differs from other biographies of Moliere in that the author (theater, Amherst College) approaches his subject from a theatrical point of view rather than from the more usual literary point of view. Scott gives a clear picture of Moliere's relationship with the troupe of actors of which he became the accepted leader, his work with the French court of Louis XIV, and his personal life. From a relatively early age Moliere dedicated his life to the stage and let nothing interfere with his work and the support of his troupe of actors. Scott calls into question some of the more romantic stories of Moliere's life, including his supposed death on the stage at the end of the fourth performance of Le Malade imaginaire. The research in preparation of this work is evident. Very highly recommended for anyone interested in 17th-century French theater or literature. The binding, paper, and printing are excellent; there are a few proofreading e rrors. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. E. Parker Jr. formerly, Wake Forest University

Table of Contents

1 Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
2 Madeleine
3 The Illustre ThFotre
4 Exile
5 Return to Paris
6 Husbands and Wives
7 The Courtier
8 Enemies
9 Friends
10 Marriage (and Love)
11 Last Act
12 Envoi
Works consulted