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Richard Wilbur's translations of the great French dramas have been a boon to acting troupes, students of French literature and history, and theater lovers. He continues this wonderful work with two plays from Pierre Corneille: Le Cid is Corneille's most famous play, a tragedy set in Seville that illuminates the dangers of being bound by honor and the limits of romantic love; The Liar is a farce, set in France and dealing with love,misperceptions, and downright falsifications, which ends, of course, happily ever after. These two plays, together in one volume, work in perfect tandem to showcase the breadth of Corneille's abilities. Taking us back to the time he portrays as well as the time of his greatest success as a playwright, they remind us of that the delights to be found on the French stage are truly ageless.
Pierre Corneille, in his original dedication for The Theatre of Illusion, described the play as a "strange monster." He first called these five acts a comedy; later, a "caprice" and an "extravagant trifle." Written in 1635 and staged in 1636, the play vanished from the stage for the next three hundred years--to be revived in 1937 by Louis Jouvet and the Comédie Française. Since then it has been widely considered, in Virginia Scott's words, "Corneille's baroque masterpiece."Today this brilliant piece of wit and drama is available in a new translation from one of America's finest poets and translators of French, Richard Wilbur. Widely praised for his translations of plays by Molière and Racine, Wilbur now turns his poetic grace to this work, which remains as much a celebration of the comedy of humanity and the magic of life as it was when Corneille wrote it.
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