I wish to thank all of you for the comments you have written. The invitation to rate my posts is proof that people are reading my posts, including moliéristes. It’s a forum, not an arena.
As you know, I was ready to write my book during a forthcoming sabbatical, but I was assigned the preparation of new courses, one of which was Animals in Literature. It took away my sabbatical. I’m not writing my book online, but I am reading Molière and sharing this endeavour with my WordPress colleagues.
I realize that students can get information from my posts and other online sources. That’s fine. They may quote me, acknowledging their source, and posts can be republished. If writing my book proves impossible, I will nevertheless have discussed Molière publicly for a brief period of time and in a manner that introduces Molière to the general public. Quoting Molière in French and English is time consuming, but it is an imperative.
Les Fourberies de Scapin
My Pléiade edition of Molière was published in 1956. It is an old edition that does not contain the lines where Scapin tells Argante that he himself, Argante, will not break Octave’s marriage because he loves his son. However, these lines are part of the editor’s Notes et Variantes. Occasionally, Molière recycled parts of his comedies. These were his. The conversation I quoted is all but repeated in Le Malade imaginaire. The editors of the 1682 edition of the complete works of Molière excluded that part of the conversation. But the Molière 21‘s editors of the Pléiade 2010 edition have re-entered the relevant dialogue in the latest Pléiade edition, which we are using.
In Les Fourberies de Scapin, Molière juxtaposed the power of fathers and a father’s love. This juxtaposition is essential to an understanding of the play. Molière knew that there were forced marriages. Octave barely believes that his father will let him marry Géronte’s daughter Hyacinte. So, Molière also knew that fathers loved their sons and that this love was more powerful than tradition: parents choosing their children’s spouse. Molière used a subtle path, a kind destiny. Our fathers, Argante and Géronte, had chosen to marry their sons to the women their sons love, one of whom, Octave, has already married Hyacinte.
Scapin and the innamorati
Scapin is a zanni, a valet in the service of Octave and, by the same token, in the service of the innamorati, the young couple(s). In the eighteenth century zanni became more daring. Beaumarchais wrote the Figaro Trilogy. His Marriage of Figaro would inspire Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was transformed into a beloved opera: Le nozze di Figaro (K. 492, 1786). As well, Antoine Watteau painted ethereal fêtes galantes that are inextricably associated to the commedia dell’arte. Pierrot emerges: the sad clown.
More importantly, how does one cease discussing love? Love is une constante. Le Roman de la Rose was an apex in the treatment of courtly love. The eighteenth century also brought Marivaux. His play, Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard, was performed by the Comédie-Italienne, on 23 January 1730. We need also mention Mozart/Da Ponte’s Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (K. 588, 1790), a charming love story. It is rooted in the Decameron.
Our next play is Molière’s Psyché, which he wrote in collaboration with the legendary Pierre Corneille. It is a tragi-comédie in verse and a tragédie-ballet. Its composer is Jean-Baptiste Lully and its choreographer, Pierre Beauchamp. Psyché was first performed at the Théâtre des Tuileries, on 17 January 1671.
I wrote posts on 2nd century Apuleius’ Golden Ass. It contains the Tale of Cupid and Psyche, a “digression.” Apuleius had read Ovid’s (20 March 43 BCE – 17/18 CE) Metamorphoses, an extremely influential work. Transformations have long fascinated human beings. Icarus wanted to fly. In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and, in 1915, Franz Kafka published The Metamorphosis. We do have the loup garou (the werewolf).
Psyche is a mythical figure.
- Fêtes galantes & Galanterie (25 April 2016)
- Beaumarchais’ Trilogy: The Guilty Mother (18 July 2014)
- The Figaro Trilogy (14 July 2014)
- Cupid and Psyche and Magical Realism (7 August 2013)
- Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche (4 August 2013)
Sources and Resources
- Zanni: an Antique Mask of the Commedia dell’arte
- Così fan tutte (Britannica)
- Soave sia il vento (lyrics), a WordPress site
- The featured image is by Adolphe Lalauze (théâtre-documentation.com)
Love to everyone 💕
© Micheline Walker
1 September 2019