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The Misanthrope and Other Plays (Signet classics) [Mass Market Paperback]

Jean-Baptiste Moliere
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book by Moliere, Jean-Baptiste

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First Sentence
A verse comedy in five acts, first performed June 4, 1666, at the Theatre du Palais-Royal in Paris by Moliere's company, the Troupe du Roi. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical May 30 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You might not think a play in verse written in the 17th century would be accessible and entertaining today, but this one's hilarious. Somehow the formal rhyming couplets make everything funnier. Get the Donald Frame translation - I've seen some others that weren't nearly as good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very relevant Nov. 11 2001
By Jeremy
It is my blief that everyone should read this book. I am a high school senior and find it very insightful. In addition to that, it is also very ammusing. It is an accurate commentary on society.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brief but pointed Aug. 3 2001
Moliere deals with numerous common themes in his short five-act play. The play follows the throes of passion of the main character (Alceste), obsessed with his love for Celimene while being plagued by his need for truth, often at the unsociable expense of bluntness. His friend (Philinte) attempts to dissuade Alceste both in his love for Celimene and his brusque honesty, but fails in both. Aleceste finally ends up retiring to a hermit-esque fate after ironically forgiving Celemine for courting the favor and advances of a number of other admirers, all of whom end up enraged with her flattery and lack of direction. In a brief 52 pages, Moliere pointed debates the virtues of "niceness" and "truth," two seemingly mutually exclusive virtues, leaving the reader with a provoking but conclusionless sense of indecision.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Moliere seems closer to us than Shakespeare. Jan. 25 2001
Although Moliere is only half a century younger than Shakespeare, he is less hard work - there is no elaborate rhetoric or difficult, metaphysical poetry. dialogue is plain and functional. This, of course, brings him nearer to us, and we are far more likely to meet a Tartuffe, say, in everyday life than a Lear or Hamlet.
However, I don't think he's supposed to be this plain. Wood's translation is a nimble, enjoyable read, but in the two translations, from French to English, from metre to prose, something has been lost; maybe not poetry, but certainly language. What we are left with are breezily amusing farces - this is more than enough for me, but makes me wonder why Bloom had him in his canon.
'Tartuffe' is the most famous play in this collection. Subject to censorship and interdiction in its time, Wood introduces the play with a preface and two petitions to the King from Moliere. Although they are revealing about Moliere's absolute dependency on the monarch, and the need to flatter culminating in the play's preposterous deus ex machina, they necessarily caricature the play's complexity.
Tartuffe the religious hypocrite who tries to bring down the social order, who reveals the aristocracy's own hypocrisy (look at the amount of two-facedness needed to expose him), forces them down to his level, makes blatant the fundamental desires high society would prefer not to acknowledge - sex, food, wealth etc. The true horror of Tartuffe's marriage with Marianne is not that he is a repulsive bigot, but because he is trying to wrest power and means from the nobility (a job already started by the Figaro-like maid). I bet it wasn't really the Tartuffes who hated this play.
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4.0 out of 5 stars idealism meets pragmatism Nov. 5 2000
A tale that, at first, appears to be rather didactic and poorly composed yet a genius of the theater makes this work a tour-de-force by the play's close. A misanthrope applies his philosophic treatsie to life, no holes barred, remaining consistant to the end and, forseeibly, is condemned (by himself) to move into a Zarathrustrian/Thoreauian hertiage atop a mountain. This work not only fully expounds logically consistancy in the face of a hypocritical society, but it casts an engenious veil of dark humor over all five acts. Recommended.
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