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Molière - book author

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known by his stage name, Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known dramas are Le Misanthrope, (The Misanthrope), L'Ecole des femmes (The School for Wives), Tartuffe ou l'Imposteur, (Tartuffe or the Hypocrite), L'Avare ou l'École du mensonge (The Miser), Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman).

From a prosperous family and having studied at the Jesuit Clermont College (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped to polish his comic abilities while he also began writing, combining Commedia dell'Arte elements with the more refined French comedy.

Through the patronage of a few aristocrats including the brother of Louis XIV, Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, Le Docteur amoureux (The Doctor in Love), Molière was granted the use of Salle du Petit-Bourbon at the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Later, Molière was granted the use of the Palais-Royal. In both locations he found success among the Parisians with plays such as Les Précieuses ridicules (The Affected Ladies), L'École des maris (The School for Husbands) and L'École des femmes (The School for Wives). This royal favour brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title "Troupe du Roi" (The King's Troupe). Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments.

Though he received the adulation of the court and Parisians, Molière's satires attracted criticisms from moralists and the Church. Tartuffe ou l'Imposteur (Tartuffe or the Hypocrite) and its attack on religious hypocrisy roundly received condemnations from the Church while Don Juan was banned from performance. Molière's hard work in so many theatrical capacities began to take its toll on his health and, by 1667, he was forced to take a break from the stage. In 1673, during a production of his final play, Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), Molière, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, was seized by a coughing fit and a haemorrhage while playing the hypochondriac Argan. He finished the performance but collapsed again soon after, and died a few hours later. In his time in Paris, Molière had completely reformed French comedy.

Molière is the author of books: Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, L'Avare, Don Juan, Le Malade imaginaire, L'École des Femmes, Les Fourberies de Scapin, Le Médecin Malgré Lui, The Misanthrope and Other Plays

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01

Condemned and banned for five years in Molière’s day, Tartuffe is a satire on religious hypocrisy. Tartuffe worms his way into Orgon’s household, blinding the master of the house with his religious "devotion," and almost succeeds in his attempts to seduce his wife and disinherit his children before the final unmasking.

02
The Misanthrope or Le Misanthrope ou l’Atrabilaire amoureux is a comedy of manners in five acts and in verse.

It is one of the best of Molière's plays — and one of the greatest of all comedies — spotlighting the absurdities of social and literary pretension, focusing on a man who is quick to criticize the faults of others, yet remains blind to his own.
This play satirizes the hypocrisies of French aristocratic society, but it also engages a more serious tone when pointing out the flaws, which all humans possess. The play differs from other farces at the time by employing dynamic characters like Alceste and Célimène as opposed to the traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society. It also differs from most of Molière's other works by focusing more on character development and nuances than on plot progression. The play, though not a commercial success in its time, survives as Molière's best-known work today. Much of its universal appeal is due to common undercurrents of misanthropy across cultural borders.
03
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme est une comédie-ballet, en cinq actes en prose.

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme nous raconte l'histoire comique d'un riche bourgeois qui essaye d'imiter la façon de vivre et le comportement des nobles.
04
Harpagon est un vieillard odieux et avare. Avare jusqu'au ridicule, puisqu'il fait comparaître en justice le chat d'un de ses voisins pour lui avoir mangé le reste d'un gigot ! Avare jusqu'au sordide aussi. Ne cherche-t-il pas à prêter à un taux usuraire l'argent qu'il refuse à son fils ? N'est-il pas prêt à vendre sa fille à qui offre de la prendre sans dot ? Quant à sa prétendue attirance pour Mariane, elle ne résiste pas à sa fascination pour l'or. Peut-être la plus célèbre des comédies de Molière, L'Avare s'inspire largement de l'Aulularia, une pièce de théâtre écrite au IIIe siècle avant J-C par le poète latin Plaute.
05
Molière's classic tale of the Seducer of Seville, an uproariously funny story flawlessly translated by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

Don Juan, the "Seducer of Seville," originated as a hero-villain of Spanish folk legend, is a famous lover and scoundrel who has made more than a thousand sexual conquests. One of Molière's best-known plays, Don Juan was written while Tartuffe was still banned on the stages of Paris, and shared much with the outlawed play. Modern directors transformed Don Juan in every new era, as each director finds something new to highlight in this timeless classic. Richard Wilbur's flawless translation will be the standard for generations to come, as have his translations of Molière's other plays. Witty, urbane, and poetic in its prose, Don Juan is, most importantly, as funny now as it was for audiences when it was first presented.

About the translator:
Richard Wilbur, National Book Award winner, is one of America's great living poets. He has won every major literary award (including two Pulitzer Prizes) and has a devoted poetry following, and is anthologized in every important volume on the subject. He is a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academy of American Poets. He has written, translated, and/or edited twenty-five books.
06
Le Malade imaginaire est la dernière comédie et en même temps la dernière pièce écrite par Molière. Il s'agit d'une comédie-ballet en trois actes.

Dans la satire outrageante de Molière sur la médecine et ses praticiens on peut dire que le riche Argan “jouit” d'une mauvaise santé. Les laxatifs, suppositoires, saignées, et les opinions deuxième et troisième des charlatans éminents sont à l'ordre du jour et l’enfer de Toinette, sa servante qui ose lui contredire. Sa fille Angélique est amoureuse de Cléante, mais Argan veut la marier à Thomas Diafoirus, un médecin qui ne vaut rien, qui peut assurer à son beau-père des soins de santé pour la durée de sa vie. Cléante se déguise en professeur de musique pour pouvoir voir son amour, mais Béline, la deuxième épouse d’Argan, menace de les dénoncer. Une Toinette déguisée, des sages conseils de son frère Béralde, et une scène de mort truquée, vont enfin montrer à Argan qui il peut faire confiance.
07
L’École des femmes est une comédie en cinq actes et en vers.

La comédie de Molière L'École des femmes est considérée par les critiques pour être parmi ses plus beaux travaux. L'histoire d'un homme qui est tellement obsédé par l'infidélité féminine qu'il projette d'épouser sa jeune pupille naïve, qu'il a formé pour être la femme parfaite, est un exemple classique du style comique de Molière.
08
Les Fourberies de Scapin est une comédie en trois actes en prose.

En l'absence de son père, Octave a épousé en secret Hyacinthe, la femme qu'il aime. Mais dès son retour son père a décidé de le marier avec une inconnue. Quant à Léandre c'est Zerbinette qu'il aime, mais son père a également décidé autrement. Alors, que peuvent bien faire ces deux jeunes gens sans argent contre la puissance et l'autorité de leurs pères? Faire appel à Scapin, bien sûr, le valet bondissant et malicieux, joueur et beau parleur: rien de tel que l'un de ses nombreux tours pour retourner la situation !
Etant le personnage clé dans la commedia dell'arte qu'il est, il n'est pas surprenant que Molière a choisi de donner à Scapin un rôle de premier plan dans l'une de ses meilleures farces. Rien d'étonnant non plus à ce que cette pièce ait été l'une des plus jouées et des plus applaudies du répertoire de Molière : son humour universel continue de divertir même les pince-sans-rire.
09
Le Médecin malgré lui est une comédie-farce en trois actes en prose.
Sganarelle, bûcheron alcoolique, est pris pour un médecin rénommé, même q'il n'a aucune idée de ce qu'un médecin doit savoir.
10
In the seventeenth century, Molière raised comedy to the pitch of great art and, three centuries later, his plays are still a source of delight. He created a new synthesis from the major comic traditions at his disposal. This collection demonstrates the range of Molière's comic vision, his ability to move between the broad and basic ploys of farce to the more subtle and sophisticated level of high comedy. The Misanthrope appears along with Such Preposterously Precious Ladies, Tartuffe, A Doctor Despite Himself, The Would-Be Gentleman, and Those Learned Ladies.