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Saturday, 15 January 2022

Saturday Rave: Preface to Tartuffe by Moliere.

 Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622 - 1673), usually known by his stage name of Molière, is famous, honoured and respected throughout the world. As if this isn't unusual enough for anyone, he made a reasonable living as a writer (well, sometimes) and to make the whole thing close to incredible, he wrote comedy.

On the other hand, he was imprisoned for debt (for the rent due on a tennis court he was renting as a theatre) and he regularly drove various segments of French High Society crazy with outrage - which was a jolly dangerous business at the time.

Poor Molière died after he had a haemorrhage on stage while performing the title role in his own play Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid). The King had to give special permission for his body to be buried on consecrated ground (that was against the law because poor Molière was an actor). Even then, the burial had to happen at night.

Here's a short quotation, not from one of his plays (because a writer's characters often insist on uttering all kinds of nonsense) but from the preface to one of his masterpieces, Tartuffe.

People do not mind being wicked, but they object to being made ridiculous.

And, you know something? All at once the English Channel seems three times as wide.

Ah well. Our two countries are joined in admiring Molière, at least.

Word To Use Today: ridiculous. This word comes from the Latin rīdiculōsus, from rīdēre, to laugh. 

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