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A Selection from the Comedies of Marivaux par Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux

178 pages

A Selection from the Comedies of Marivaux par Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Selection from the Comedies of Marivaux by Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: A Selection from the Comedies of Marivaux Author: Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux Release Date: June 3, 2004 [EBook #12504] Language: French and English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK COMEDIES OF MARIVAUX *** Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Aldarondo, Keren Vergon and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. A SELECTION FROM THE COMEDIES OF MARIVAUX EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY EVERETT WARD OLMSTED New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD. 1901 All rights reserved. To Thomas Frederick Crane, A.M., Of Cornell University, Whose Profound Scholarship, Inspiring Teachings, And Lasting Friendship Are Here Gratefully Acknowledged. PREFACE. That so typical a representative of eighteenth century society, so gracious a personality, so charming a writer, and so superior a genius as Marivaux should be not only unedited, but practically unknown to the American reading public, is a matter of surprise. His brilliant comedies, written in an easy prose, and free from all impurities of thought or expression, offer peculiarly attractive texts for our classes. It is for these reasons that this edition was undertaken. The plays chosen, le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard, le Legs, and les Fausses Confidences are generally considered his best plays, and are fortunately free from dialect, which, in the mouths of certain characters of l'Épreuve and of la Mère confidente, charming as are these comedies, makes them undesirable for study in college or school. The text of les Fausses Confidences is that of 1758 (Paris, Duchesne, 5 vols.), the last collective edition published during the lifetime of the author, that of le Legs, from the edition of 1740 (Paris, Prault père, 4 vols.), while that of le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard, which is contained in neither the edition of 1758 nor in that of 1740, is from the first collective edition of his works of 1732 (Paris. Briasson, 2 vols.). It has not seemed wise to retain the curious orthography of these early editions, as the explanation of the same would uselessly burden the notes, and possibly confuse the student. An orthography following the same lines as that of the edition of les Grands Écrivains has been adopted. The Introduction is rather extensive, but, as it serves in truth as an introduction to students in American schools of an author as yet little known, a less minute statement of his qualifications would hardly have been pardonable. Many quotations have been given, some from Marivaux himself, or from contemporary biographers, of so authoritative a nature as to add more weight than any summing up by the editor, and others from celebrated French critics, whose views, or whose picturesqueness of expression, have been often invaluable. In fact, the Introduction does not claim to be so much a literary essay as a compilation of authorities. The notes to a text containing no historical, literary, or biographical allusions are naturally limited to explaining the difficulties of the French, and are less extensive than would otherwise be required. Words and idioms, which, though unusual or difficult, can be found in any of the small dictionaries accessible to students, have been excluded from the notes as unnecessary, except such as might mislead unless explained, or such as differ from the modern use. It remains for the editor to acknowledge his indebtedness for sympathetic interest and valuable suggestions to Gustave Larroumet, professor of French Literature at the University of Paris, and perpetual secretary of the Académie des Beaux Arts, to Professor Crane and Mr. Guerlac of Cornell University, and to Professor de Sumichrast of Harvard. EVERETT WARD OLMSTED. CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA, N.Y., January 9, 1901. CONTENTS. INTRODUCTION CHRONOLOGY BIBLIOGRAPHY LE JEU DE L'AMOUR ET DU HASARD LE LEGS LES FAUSSES CONFIDENCES NOTES INTRODUCTION Among the treasures of the Comédie-Française, interesting alike to students of letters and of art, is a painting by Vanloo. It bears the date of 1753, and represents a man of doubtful age—for it is hard to tell whether he is past his prime or not—yet, if the truth were known, one could not write him down for less than sixty-five. The face is life-like and attractive, full of an expression of gentle breeding, kindliness, wit, and subtlety. The eyes are rather dark, large, fine, and keen; with the thin lips, pursed in a half-smile, they form the most striking features of the countenance, and serve to give it that characteristic of finesse so peculiar to the man. The well- developed brow, the full cheeks, and faint suggestion of a double chin, the powdered hair, the black silk coat, the lace jabot, are all in keeping with our conception of this French dramatist, whom a competent critic[1] of to-day has classed as greater than any of his contemporaries in the same field, than Beaumarchais, Voltaire, Regnard, Le Sage, and second only to Molière, Corneille, and Racine. Marivaux, whose rehabilitation has come but slowly, and in spite of many critics, occupies a place to-day, not only with the ultra- refined, but in the hearts of the theatre-going public, which, I doubt not, even the most enthusiastic admirers among his contemporaries would not have dared to hope for him; for, next to Molière, no author of comedies appears so often upon the stage of the Théâtre-Français as does the author of le Jeu de l'Amour et du Hasard. In the very heart of Paris, and just back of the Hôtel de Ville, stands the church of Saint-Gervais, a church of comparatively little fascination to the general student of art or history, although its mingling of Flamboyant and Renaissance styles may attract the specialist in architecture: but to the student of literary history it has a greater interest, for it is here that "poor Scarron sleeps." and it was in this parish that Pierre Cariet de Chamblain de Marivaux was born, and in this church, doubtless, that he was christened, although the register of baptism was destroyed at the time of the burning of the archives of the Hôtel de Ville, in May, 1871. The date of his birth was February 4, 1688, a year noteworthy as introducing to the public the first edition of the Caractères of La Bruyère, with whom Marivaux has often been compared. His father was of an old Norman family, which had had representatives in the parlement of that province.[2] Since then the family had "descended from the robe to finance," following the expression of d'Alembert.[3] Ennobled by the robe, they had assumed the name de Chamblain, but unfortunately the latter name was common to certain financiers, and, to still better distinguish themselves, the family had adopted the additional name of Marivaux.[4] There seems, however, to have been no connection between them and the lords
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