« PrécédentContinuer »
Racine, Jean Baptiste
heath's Modern Language Series
EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION, CONTAINING
AND WITH NOTES
CHARLES A. EGGERT, PH.D.
PROFESSOR OF MODERN LANGUAGES, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA
D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS
RACINE'S Athalie is one of those works that must have a place in every curriculum which recognizes the study of French. It is not simply a masterpiece, but it is the masterpiece of one of the greatest literary artists known. Such a work cannot be fully appreciated without some knowledge of the author, and without a commentary on its most characteristic features. The attempt has been made in this edition to supply both in a form neither cumbersome nor superficial, and sufficient for the purposes of school or college.
The justly admired beauty and artistic finish of Racine's versification, nowhere so varied as in Athalie, may justify the addition of a brief treatise on versification especially prepared for this edition. It is a truism that poetry should be read as poetry, but thus far very little has been done to present the subject of French versification for practical use in the class-room.
In the notes every subject of interest, and all grammatical difficulties, have received attention. While brevity was aimed at, extreme care has been taken to make this part of the edition all that can be desired.
The text of this edition is based on that contained in the series of "Les Grands Écrivains de la France," by Paul Mesnard, but slight changes in punctuation and spelling, such as have been made by French editors of the work for
school use, have been adopted, and in two cases (11. 124 and 509) the text has been slightly altered by the omission of an s, in order to adapt it to modern grammatical rules.
In the preparation of this edition so many authors have been consulted that their enumeration would needlessly encumber this preface. The names of the most important appear in the commentary and the notes.
The editor takes this opportunity of expressing his special obligation to Dr. A. R. Hohlfeld, of Vanderbilt University, for valuable suggestion and advice.
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY, NASHVILLE, Tenn.
RACINE AND HIS WORKS.
I. PORT-ROYAL. -JEAN RACINE, who shares with Pierre Corneille (1606–1684) the honor of being one of the two greatest tragic poets of France, was born Dec. 22, 1639, in La Ferté Milon, a town some distance to the northeast of Paris. His father was a poor officer in the royal salt-stores. having died within a few years after his birth, the orphaned boy was adopted and brought up by his grandparents on the mother's side, and as these had friends among the Jansenists,1 a sort of Catholic reformers, who held peculiar views on the question of "grace," the boy was sent to the school of Port-Royal, managed by Jansenists, after he had passed through the town school of Beauvais. He entered this school of Port-Royal at the age of fifteen and left the place at the age of eighteen. Of his teachers he has said: (in his Abrégé de l'Histoire de PortRoyal): They were not ordinary men. It is enough to state that among them was the celebrated Mr. Nicole (an excellent Latin scholar). Another was that same Mr. Lancelot to whom we owe the new Greek and Latin methods so well known as the methods of Port-Royal." Lancelot was his Greek teacher. He was, according to the Jesuits, the bitter enemies of Port-Royal,
1 Jansenius, afterwards bishop of Ypres in the Netherlands, had elaborated a system based on the idea of predestination, in connection with his friend Saint-Cyran, who established the society of Port-Royal. After Saint-Cyran, Antoine Arnauld became the leader of this society in France. Their views on "grace" were claimed to be those held by Saint Augustine.