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Attention is called to the series of CLASSIQUES FRANÇAIS, which it is proposed to publish for school purposes, from time to time, fully and carefully annotated with English notes by competent authorities.
NOW READY :
Molière, with English notes by Prof. Schele
$0.25 No. 2.—LE CID, tragédie en cinq actes, par Pierre
Corneille, with English notes by Prof. Schele de Vere, Professor of modern languages at the University of Virginia. 87 pages.
12mo., cloth, $0.40, paper. ... $0.25 No. 3.-LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME,
Comédie en cinq actes, par J.-B. P. Molière, with English Notes by Prof. Schele de Vere, Professor of modern languages at the University of Virginia. 108 pages. 12mo, Cloth, $0.40, Paper
$0.25 IN PREPARATION: HORACE, by CORNEILLE. ANDROMAQUE, by RACINE.
COMÉDIE-BALLET EN CINQ ACTES
With profus. Historical, Philological, Idiomatical and descriptive Notes by
SCHELE DE VERE, Ph.D., LL.D.
NEW YORK :
851 & 853 SIXTH AVE.
BOSTON ; CARL SCHOENHOF.
was aimed at what La Fontaine calls “proprement le mal français,” the foolish vanity which longs to shine above his means and social position of his victim. A modest, upright man, belonging to what is known as the “Middle Class” is suddenly seized with a desire to play the nobleman. Fifty years old, Mr. Jourdain, the son of a well-to-do retired grocer, sets to work to learn to sing, to dance, to fight and to become even a savant, so as to be able to pay his court to great ladies. He gives entertainments, keeps carriage and horses, patronizes artists and authors, and pretends to fall in love with a marchioness, since such was the fashion of the day, as he believed. He is proud of lending money to a scamp of a young lord, who laughs at him. and spends large sums on the imaginary mistress of his heart whom he amuses. The climax is reached when the poor man in order to correct the misfortune of his low birth, allows himself to be made a “ Mamamouchi," and under most absurdly ridiculous ceremonies to be invested with the emblems of his new rank.
The teachers, which he employs to make him a "nobleman,” are admirable types of the classes they represented in Molière's days. They quarrel among themselves about the respective rank of their “sciences,”—for professors of dancing, &c. were not unknown then,-and nearly crme to blows, when the
philosopher appears and by reading to them a “docte traité que Sénèque a composé de la colère," tries to make peace. The usual result follows, and the three rivals fall upon the unlucky peace-maker and make him their common victim.
Mrs. Jourdain is a plain common sense woman, in striking contrast with her visionary husband, patiently bearing his contempt, when he discovers to his utter amazement and great pride, that he has been speaking “prose" all his life. Likewise, the daughter inherits her mother's character and sound sense, but is more highly cultivated. In her simple, natural way, she loves Cléante and suits him exactly. The two servants, Covielle and the maid Nicole, are Molière's typical representations of that class; the manner in which they parody the weakness of master and mistress (Act III, scene 9 & 10) is one of the charms of the comedy. Nor must the “Tailor” be forgotten, who so humourously succeeds in convincing Mr. Jourdain, that his boots hurt him,only in imagination, and who, with all his artist's pride does not disdain to cut Mr. Jourdain's cloth so as to leave enough over for a coat of his own.
It cannot be denied that the piece is not improved by the addition of the farce in the last act. Here, the jest becomes so broad, the credulity of Mr. Jourdain is so grossly abused and the absurdity becomes so oppressive, that the interest flags and pleasure is at an end. Still, the result seems to justify the author. When the Bourgeois Gentilhomme was produced the first time, October 17th, 1670 at Chambord, the King was silent; and his silence was interpreted as disapproval. Luckily, after the second representation “en vérité, vous n'avez rien fait qui m'ait tant diverti;' he declared the piece to be excellent, and after that it became exceedingly popular. Paris applauded enthusiastically, when in November, it saw the first performance. That such deception as the comedy portrays is not beyond