Professor Greenberg's lucid study examines the themes of authority, power and sexuality in Corneille's major plays, drawing on the work of Foucault, and Freudian and feminist critics. He begins by considering the question of myth and of a 'pre-historical' cultural memory in Médée, and proceeds to a detailed analysis of each of the four best-known tragedies: Le Cid, Horace, Cinna, and Polyeucte. A concluding chapter discusses two middle-period plays and Suréna, Corneille's last tragedy. Professor Greenberg argues that the formal symmetries of classical tragedy reflect a desire for control in the realm of both politics and sexuality. He also seeks to show how these principles of symmetry are challenged or undermined in various ways by the plays themselves. The result is an exacerbation of sexual and political desire which invests Cornelian tragedy with its peculiar power and involves us so deeply in its world.
About the Author
Mitchell Greenberg is Goldwin Smith Professor of Romance Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of several books on seventeenth-century French literature and culture. Greenberg uses contemporary critical theories, particularly Freudian and post-Freudian approaches, in the interpretation of early modern texts.
Table of Contents
Prefaces; Introduction; 1. Mythifying matrix: Corneille's Médée and the birth of tragedy; 2. Le Cid: father/time; 3. Horace, classicism and female trouble; 4. Cinna: empty mirrors; 5. Polyeucte: seeing is believing; 6. Nicomède, Rodogune, Suréna: monsters, melanchology and the end of the ancien régime; Notes; Index.