Two classic plays translated by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet into English verse. In The Misanthrope, society itself is indicted and the impurity of its critic’s motives is exposed. In Tartuffe, the bigoted and prudish Orgon falls completely under the power of the wily Tartuffe. Introductions by Richard Wilbur.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.77(d)|
About the Author
RICHARD WILBUR, one of America’s most beloved poets, has served as poet laureate of the United States. He has received the National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Arts Club medal of honor for literature, and a number of translation prizes, including two Bollingen Prizes and two awards from PEN.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Absolutely without peer, the finest adaptation of Moliere's masterwork in the English language. So exemplary it stands on its own as a masterpiece.
Moliere has long been on my to-read list because his comedies were on a list of "100 Significant Books" I was determined to read through. The introduction in one of the books of his plays says that of his "thirty-two comedies... a good third are among the comic masterpieces of world literature." The plays are surprisingly accessible and amusing, even if by and large they strike me as frothy and light compared to comedies by Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Wilde, Shaw and Rostand. But I may be at a disadvantage. I'm a native New Yorker, and looking back it's amazing how many classic plays I've seen on stage, plenty I've seen in filmed adaptation and many I've studied in school. Yet I've never encountered Moliere before this. Several productions of Shakespeare live and filmed are definitely responsible for me love of his plays. Reading a play is really no substitute for seeing it--the text is only scaffolding. So that might be why I don't rate these plays higher. I admit I also found Wilbur's much recommended translation off-putting at first. The format of rhyming couplets seemed sing-song and trite, as if I was reading the lyrics to a musical rather than a play. As I read more I did get used to that form, but I do suspect these are the kinds of works that play much better on stage than on the page.Misanthrope - this was the first Moliere play I ever read, and arguably the most famous of all his plays. The introduction in what might seem an oxymoron calls it a comic King Lear, and I can see that side of it. As comic as this might read, it is basically a tragedy about the young man Alceste, the "misanthrope" of the play, who makes such a fetish of always being honest he alienates everyone around him. The character I enjoyed the most was definitely the malicious Arsinoe who plays the prude. The catty scenes between her and Alceste's love Celimene is particularly hilarious. Tartuffe - of the five Moliere plays I now have read, this one, about over-religiosity and hypocrisy is my favorite. The title character Tartuffe is a conman who prays on the religious sensibility and man-crush of his patron Orgon. The scene in particular where Orgon responds to reports of his wife's illness by repeatedly asking, "But what about Tartuffe" nearly had me laughing out loud. The character of the pert and shrewd lady's maid Dorine is particularly delightful.