By Jean Racine
Optimal chef-d uvre de Racine, qui lui valut, à vingt-sept ans, d être comparé au grand Corneille, Andromaque fut à sa création un véritable triomphe. En réinventant l histoire de l. a. veuve d Hector captive de Pyrrhus, roi d Épire, il inaugurait une nouvelle forme de tragédie, où l amour devenait resource de tous les périls et de tous les égarements. Dans cette pièce aux puissants effets pathétiques, marquée par le désordre extrême des sentiments, les personnages, emportés par leurs passions, se livrent aux pires excès sans jamais cesser d être d authentiques héros.
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Among the plays readers would have encountered were Uncle Vanya, The Seagull, Miss Julie, and Salomé. Clearly this body of work is markedly different from the plays in the general interest American periodicals and presumably reached a different or overlapping readership. In his survey of the early years of Poet-Lore, Melvin Bernstein describes the two founders, Helen Archibald Clarke (“C”) and Charlotte Endymion Porter (“P”), as “indefatigable literary people” (Very 10). Clarke (1860–1926) was a musician and scientist who dramatized Browning’s poems and Porter (1859–1942) was a specialist in French theatre, the president of the American Drama Society founded in Boston (1909) to organize a civic theatre, and the person responsible for the “first” American translations of the European plays in Poet-Lore (Very 11).
But even many of the American plays take on serious problems and do not resolve easily. As well, the startling absence of African Americans as playwrights or characters marks the most significant difference between periodical and production practice. If the theatre of this period was primarily visual, the drama in periodicals was primarily verbal and aural. Though often complemented by illustrations, the American plays as well as the foreign plays dramatize situations through accessible language and dialogue.
The more general stance against those writers was explained by John Corbin in 1907: “As for the plays from the Continent, two influences combined to invalidate them. The growth of native feeling in our audiences rendered the old method of false and specious adaptation powerless; and, with the growth of realism and the literary sense abroad, the plays themselves were becoming more and more difficult to transpose into terms of American life . . The newer order of dramatists— Ibsen, Sudermann, Hauptmann, Capus, Brieux, Donnay, Lavedan and others—were on the whole impossible, at once because of their greater intellectuality, their more local and individual presentation of life, and the gloominess or unmorality of their themes” (635).
Andromaque by Jean Racine