Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière(1622-1673), was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known works are: Le The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, Tartuffe or the Imposter), The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and The Bourgeois Gentleman.
Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont, Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing French comedy. Even as a child Molière found it infinitely more pleasant to poke fun at the aristocracy than to associate with them.
After living for more than 40 years in Australia, and nearly 30 in Canada, two countries that engage in the tall poppy syndrome, a pejorative term to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers, I can understand Moliere's early behaviour even as a child.
Australia's usage of the term has evolved and is not uniformly negative. In Australia, a long history of 'underdog' culture and profound respect for humility in contrast to that of Australia's English feudal heritage results in a different understanding of 'Tall Poppy Syndrome'. Of the Australian definition, Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald writes; "Australian Citizens know that some among them will have more power, money or talent than others... But according to the unspoken national ethos, no Australian is permitted to assume that he or she is better than any other Australian. How is this enforced? By the prompt corrective of levelling derision."
In 1643 at the age of twenty-one Moliere decided to dedicate his life to the theatre. Thirty years later in 1673, at the age of 51 and on his deathbed, the local priests refused to take his confession. Actors had no social standing in France. They were excommunicated by the church. Nor were actors permitted to be buried in holy ground. In the last 300 years actors, 1673-1973, have come a long way and now have virtual celebrity status among the generality of the population.
Molière is a 2007 film by French director Laurent Tirard. It was released in Europe in January 2007, and in the United States in July 2007. The film is no biopic but, rather, a piece of pure fantasy. It came to Australian TV six years later and I enjoyed its cleverness and brief insight into French history.1 –Ron Price with thanks to 1SBSONE TV, 2 & 3/3/’13, 11:25 to 1:35 a.m.
Being a comedian was hard work,
and it took its toll on Moliere.
He retired at age 45 in 1667...(1)
Being a teacher & suffering various
slings-arrows of outrageous fortune
took their toll on me and I retired
at age 55 in 1999. I was never into
writing plays, but got into poetry
in the years after my retirement...
(1) In his 14 years in Paris, Molière single-handedly wrote 31 of the 85 plays performed on his stage while simultaneously holding his company together. Molière is considered the creator of modern French comedy, and one of the foremost dramatists in world literature.
He succeeded in elevating the traditional status of French comedy from farcical buffoonery to that of an influential forum for social criticism. Molière is considered by modern scholars to have profoundly influenced the development of modern comedy, and established comic drama as a legitimate literary medium, equal to tragedy in its ability to portray aspects of human nature
3/3/’13 to 3/7/'13.
Last edited on Wed Jul 3rd, 2013 03:29 am by RonPrice