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Théâtre français (translations in English)

BELYARD, Simon
The Guisian (1592)
Introduction and Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 07/10/2019 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

It is tempting to dismiss Simon Belyard’s tragedy as a poor cousin of The Guisiade (La Guisiade) of Pierre Matthieu, the other surviving contemporary French tragedy to deal with the assassination of Henri, Duke of Guise, on royal orders at Blois in 1588.

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MONTCHRESTIEN, Antoine de
Hector: Tragedy  (1601-1604?)
Introduction and Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 15/03/2019 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

Hector is widely regarded as Montchrestien’s most accomplished achievement within the conventions of turn-of-the-century neo-classical French tragedy, following in the line of Robert Garnier but with increased distance from any topical political application.  Certainly, on these terms it is a powerful piece of poetic theatre. Within a neo-Stoically conditioned metaphysical framework outlining the possibilities, and limitations, of human actions – chiefly the exercise of heroic courage – in the face of apparently implacable destiny, Montchrestien succeeds impressively in developing the emotional potential of his subject  The subject is well chosen for the purpose: the narrow but decisive segment of the Trojan war legend portraying Hector’s decision, in defiance of ill-omens and personal supplications, to do battle on the fatal day, with disastrous consequences for himself and for Troy.

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MONTCHRESTIEN, Antoine de
The Queen of Scotland (La reine d’Escosse)  (1604)
Introduction and Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 22/10/2018 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

Among the author’s limited dramatic productions over his brief literary career, The Queen of Scotland stood out in its own time, as it continues to do. The only one of Montchrestien’s six tragedies not devoted to a biblical or classical subject, in taking up the theme of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1587), the play ventures into the fraught territory of nearly contemporary politico-religious controversy that is otherwise associated with frank works of propaganda.

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HARDY, Alexandre
Coriolan (1607?)
Nouvelle édition avec introduction par Fabien Cavaillé / Traduction anglaise avec introduction par Richard Hillman
Publié le 07/09/2018 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

The tragedy of Coriolan by Alexandre Hardy presents special interest as an intertext for Shakespeare’s adaptation of essentially the same material (Plutarch’s “Life of Coriolanus”), in Coriolanus (1608), which was probably closely contemporary, though the date of Hardy’s work is less certain.

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GALAUT, Jean
Phalante  (c. 1598; pub. 1611)
Introduction and Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 31/01/2018 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

This tragedy, intriguingly poised between the humanist model and the emerging baroque aesthetic, is based on a story narrated by Helen, Queen of Corinth, in the Arcadia of Philip Sidney (bk. I, chap. 11). Indeed, it has a claim to be the first substantial French adaptation of an English literary work – a claim all the more remarkable because, almost certainly, no translation of Sidney’s romance would have been available to the author, who nevertheless displays a detailed knowledge of that text (probably in its first published version of 1590) beyond the episode in question.

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MONTREUX, Nicolas de
Diane (La Diane)  (1594)
Introduction, Edition of the French Text and English Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 12/01/2014 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

Nothing is known of the stage history (on the reasonable presumption that it had one) of the dramatised pastoral fable that Nicolas de Montreux (as always under his anagrammatic pseudonym of “Olénix du Mont Sacré”) appended to the third volume of his popular Bergeries. The latter are pastoral romances mingling prose and verse on the model of the extremely popular Diana of Jorge de Montemayor.

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MARESCHAL, André
The Shepherds’ Court (La Cour bergère) (1638)
Introduction and English Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 05/12/2017 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

This dramatic adaptation of the Arcadia of Philip Sidney ­– a work well known in France, thanks largely to two published translations – was commissioned by Cardinal Richelieu and carries a political message: its treatment of the schemes of the wicked Cécropie (Sidney’s Cecropia) to subvert the state of Arcadia and secure the crown for her son, Amphyale, pretty clearly evokes, in an admonitory vein, Marie de’ Medici and Gaston d’Orléans.

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DESMARETS DE SAINT-SORLIN, Jean
The Visionaries (Les Visionnaires)  (1637)
Introduction by Michel Bitot, English Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 11/01/2011 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

The Visionaries achieved enormous popularity with Parisian audiences during its author’s (long) lifetime (1595-1676), before tastes changed with the advent of neo-classicisism. The irony is that the comedy itself is concerned with the vanity of literary fashions, as well as with forms of what has come to be known as “self-fashioning” but which the author groups under the heading of self-deluding folly (the primary meaning of the title).

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BARRAN, Henri de
Mankind Justified by Faith: Tragicomedy (Tragiqve comedie francoise de l'homme iustifié par Foy) (1554)
Introduction and English Translation by Richard Hillman
Publié le 11/01/2017 - Scène européenne, « Traductions introuvables »

Although published in Protestant Geneva and disparaging the Roman Catholic church on the grounds of both doctrine and practice, this moral allegory privileges instruction over polemic. It employs the traditional morality-play device of a figure representing Mankind, who, however, finds himself torn less between virtue and vice (the usual situation) than between alternative solutions to his inevitably sinful state. A representative of the Old Law (“Rabbi”), who at first prevails, advocates outward conformity and good works; he is opposed by Paul, who preaches the New Law’s (and Luther’s) message of salvation through faith alone.

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