Oh, how fine it is to know a thing or two. ~ Molière
By Catherine Rush Thompson
While Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673), known by his stage name, Molière, was born nearly 400 years ago, his words continue to inspire. Molière’s education at the College de Claremont, beginning at age 14, followed by his study of law at the University of Orleans, may have set the stage for his subsequent work as a social critic. In his early 20’s he started a theatre company called “Illustre Théâtre” (Illustrious Theatre Company), working as both an actor and director. Despite his company’s initial failure, he returned to theater, writing, performing and producing his own plays while touring France. With this experience Molière wrote French comedies that ranged from simple farces to sophisticated satires reflecting his times, a period of political, economic, religious, and social crises.
In her blog titled “Introduction to Molière” Lindsay Price writes: “[Molière] is often relegated to the role of comic, frivolous playwright, perhaps because his plays thrive in their physical action and their snappy dialogue. But this interpretation misses the level of biting social satire that he brought to his work. He wrote about the flaws of humanity, the humanity that he saw all around him each day. He created characters filled with extremes: misers, hypocrites, hypochondriacs, [and] misanthropes. These characters were so driven by their extremes that they crashed through their stories with blinders on, unable to do anything but exude their fatal flaw. There are always characters who oppose these extremes in Molière’s work, expressing the moderate voice.” His characters and social criticism still resonate today.
Molière is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language, so much so that the French language itself is familiarly called the “language of Molière.” His works have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. He continues to inspire all with his works, including comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets and more. Molière’s influence includes words based upon his plays, such as:
Kansas City will soon have an expert share more about Molière’s influence from the time of France’s Louis XIV to present day. The Plaza Library is partnering with KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 to bring Dr. Virginie Roche-Tiengo, a Moliere expert, to Kansas City to present “From Louis XIV’s France to the Anglophone World Today: Molière’s Continuing Inspiration." After careful consideration and monitoring of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Kansas City Public Library has TEMPORARILY CLOSED all 10 locations as of 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, until further notice. Kansas City, MO, issued a "Stay at Home" order on March 24. In compliance, KC MOlière: 400 in 2022, has cancelled Dr. Roche-Tiengo's lecture. We hope to reschedule on a future date.
Dr. Virginie Roche-Tiengo is Assistant Dean for International and Institutional Relations on the Law faculty of the Université Paris-Sorbonne Nord, where she teaches legal English. She is also head of the Master’s degree in International Relations, Public Policies and Strategy. Following her Ph.D. at the Sorbonne on Lost Unity: The Poetics of Myth in the Theatre of the Irish Playwright Brian Friel, she has published and delivered public lectures on French, American, and Irish drama. The latest international conference she co-organized in Paris, France, in October 2018 was titled Crossing Borders: Contemporary Anglophone Theatre in Europe. The conference aimed to allow academics, translators, publishers and a wide range of theatre practitioners, to confront their experience with Anglophone theatre throughout Europe. Twenty-two papers from eleven European countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Serbia, Spain, and Portugal) were selected and the Play An Irish Story by Kelly Rivière was staged in the MSH (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme) Paris Nord. Virginie Roche-Tiengo is currently working on Law and Theatre as part of a new book project. Her research also focuses on Molière and the Anglophone Theatre.
France in the 17th Century. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195399301/obo-9780195399301-0300.xml
Hartnoll, p. 554. "Author of some of the finest comedies in the history of the theater", and Roy, p. 756. "...one of the theatre's greatest comic artists".
Introduction to Moliere. Theatrefolk: https://www.theatrefolk.com/blog/introduction-to-moliere/
Molière Facts: https://biography.yourdictionary.com/moliere">Molière</a>
Moliere – French Dramatist. Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Moliere-French-dramatist