By Mitchell Greenberg

ISBN-10: 0521325544

ISBN-13: 9780521325547

Professor Greenberg's lucid learn examines the subjects of authority, strength and sexuality in Corneille's significant performs, drawing at the paintings of Foucault, and Freudian and feminist critics. He starts via contemplating the query of fable and of a 'pre-historical' cultural reminiscence in Médée, and proceeds to a close research of every of the 4 best-known tragedies: Le Cid, Horace, Cinna, and Polyeucte. A concluding bankruptcy discusses middle-period performs and Suréna, Corneille's final tragedy. Professor Greenberg argues that the formal symmetries of classical tragedy mirror a wish for keep watch over within the realm of either politics and sexuality. He additionally seeks to teach how those rules of symmetry are challenged or undermined in quite a few methods by way of the performs themselves. the result's an exacerbation of sexual and political wish which invests Cornelian tragedy with its ordinary energy and contains us so deeply in its international.

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Extra info for Corneille, Classicism and the Ruses of Symmetry

Example text

In its original edition ( 1 637) the play begins with a conversation between Don Gomes and Elvire . Chimene's father and her con­ fidante discuss her future marriage. This first scene clearly estab­ lishes the locus of dramatic tension within the space of desire and chronology, at the interstice of 'clanic' history and individual­ ity that defines all of the play's character. Don Gomes enumerates the laws of genealogy that structure the social universe of Le Cid. He defines the parameters inside which marriage may or may not be contracted.

3 For a limited time this ' speculation' allows those desires and fears that have been harnassed by culture to resurface within the minds and bodies of the spectators, to stand as their mirror, their Other - the negative determinant - the unrepresentable force that informs, in its negation, their being in the world: Par le dedoublement de la representation: representation le mythe, representation de la representation: la tragedie, par cette incarnation qui donne a la fable une seconde vie (comme le reve rend la vie aux pensees qu'il met en scene), le mythe qui etait dans l'epos un discours propose a la representation se mue dans la tragedie en discours impose par la representation.

It is these anxieties that Chimene more than any other of the play's characters embodies. Her role casts an uneasy shadow over the new splendor of the emerging Classical Sun. While Medee showed us the victory of matter (mater) over form (the Father), Le Cid is clearly a mise-en-scene of a patriarchal so­ ciety where we have moved from a frightening world of an all­ powerful phallic mother to the smaller, but ever so more rigidly organized stage of the Law. From a world of vengeance, hostility and aggression played out as natural forces exterior to the person of the heroine (but metonymically representative of her) we are now in world where these same passions are interiorized .

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Corneille, Classicism and the Ruses of Symmetry by Mitchell Greenberg


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