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Full-Text Articles in Modern Languages

Knowing Irony: The Problem Of Corneille, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

Knowing Irony: The Problem Of Corneille, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Irony and knowledge exist in a problematic relationship to each other, one that is strikingly similar to that between knowledge and secrets. If irony becomes unambiguously obvious, that is, known to all, it is no longer perceived as irony. And a secret is not a secret if it is widely known. By the same token, someone must perceive irony in order for it to exist, just as a secret must be known by someone. Thus the question of whether a given author is ironic is unlikely to have a clear, unambiguous answer. The probable lack of final clarity does not ...


The Trilogue In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

The Trilogue In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

The classical stage is a locus of action and interaction conveyed through speech. The number of characters interacting on stage and the extent of that interaction are a significant feature of any playwright's dramaturgical practice, and in the case of Corneille - as in the case of most of his colleagues - dialogue, with or without a silent third party present on stage, largely predominates. While study has been made of his use of monologues (Cuénin-Lieber), trilogues and polylogues, at the other end of the spectrum, have received little attention.


Pompée's Absence In Corneille's 'La Mort De Pompée', Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

Pompée's Absence In Corneille's 'La Mort De Pompée', Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Corneille's La Mort de Pompée (1643) occupies a curious position in the playwright's oeuvre, coming as it does immediately after the tetralogy. Faced with the never-ending artistic challenge of what to do next, what features to keep from earlier works, how to innovate and thereby captivate his audience, how to outdo his latest success, Corneille made some daring choices in this play. Indeed, this play is commonly viewed as a significant point in Corneille's oeuvre, one at which the playwright moves off in a radically new direction. It is my contention that the basic choice to keep ...


The Functions Of The Récit In L'Ecole Des Femmes, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

The Functions Of The Récit In L'Ecole Des Femmes, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Since L'Ecole des femmes was first performed in 1662, much mention has been made of the numerous récits in the play. In La Critique de l'Ecole des femmes, Lysidas criticizes the play because "dans cette comédie-ci, il ne se passe point d'actions, et tout consiste en des récits que vient faire Agnès ou Horace.'' Indeed, the entire love intrigue takes place offstage and is reported in the form of récits. Far from being tiresome recitals, these narratives are integrated into the structure of the play on numerous levels.


The Portrait On Stage In Molière's Theater, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

The Portrait On Stage In Molière's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Literary portraits, while common in a wide variety of genres, are not often thought of in connection with the stage. Discussions of dramaturgy make little mention of portraits, which is perhaps not surprising when one considers that theater is the domain of action, movement, and conflict; the portrait, on the contrary, is primarily descriptive. Verbal portraiture would not seem to be terribly effective in a theatrical context: it is unlikely to advance the action of the play, nor would it lend itself readily to gesture and movement. Theater requires the physical presence of its object, portraiture depends on a certain ...


Narrative Reliability And Spatial Limitations In Bajazet, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

Narrative Reliability And Spatial Limitations In Bajazet, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Récits are a standard feature in the classical theater, commonly used to bring information to an onstage universe which is limited by the unities of time and place. Action which occurs before the opening of the play finds its natural expression, given the convention of beginning the play in medias res, in narrative form. These are the récits of exposition. Bajazet is unusually rich in such récits: Acomat recounts Amurat's actions, Bajazet's youth, Acomat's own past, and how Roxane came to be able to see Bajazet (I, i, ll. 115-42, 145-56); and Atalide explains how she and ...


The Second Woman In The Theater Of Villedieu, Nina Ekstein Feb 2016

The Second Woman In The Theater Of Villedieu, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Best known for her prose fiction, Marie-Catherine Desjardins de Villedieu was also a successful playwright. Her three tragi-comedies (Manlius, Nitétis, and Le Favori), while significantly dissimilar in many respects, share an unusual feature. All three plays foreground the figure of the second woman, second because her role is clearly less central to the play's action than that of another woman character. In each case, the relationships between this second woman and the other characters of the play defy the traditional categories of the seventeenth-century stage. Furthermore, the second woman is not an object of desire. The differences between the ...


The Theatrical Lieu De Culture Within Molière’S Theater, Nina Ekstein Sep 2013

The Theatrical Lieu De Culture Within Molière’S Theater, Nina Ekstein

Nina C Ekstein

Molière’s theater is itself, by definition, a lieu de culture. The performance of one of his plays transforms the space in which it occurs into a lieu de culture by virtue of the presence of two crucial features. First, the performance belongs to a cultural domain, in this case specifically the theater. By ‘culture’ I mean simply that which is tied to the arts, letters, manners, and scholarly pursuits. Second there must be an audience present for that performance. The same basic situation obviously holds true for any playwright whose plays are performed. What makes Molière interesting is the ...


The Theatrical Lieu De Culture Within Molière’S Theater, Nina Ekstein Jan 2012

The Theatrical Lieu De Culture Within Molière’S Theater, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Molière’s theater is itself, by definition, a lieu de culture. The performance of one of his plays transforms the space in which it occurs into a lieu de culture by virtue of the presence of two crucial features. First, the performance belongs to a cultural domain, in this case specifically the theater. By ‘culture’ I mean simply that which is tied to the arts, letters, manners, and scholarly pursuits. Second there must be an audience present for that performance. The same basic situation obviously holds true for any playwright whose plays are performed. What makes Molière interesting is the ...


Over The Top: From The Tragic To The Comic In Corneille, Nina Ekstein Jan 2005

Over The Top: From The Tragic To The Comic In Corneille, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The notions of tragedy and comedy that one can intuit from the theater of Corneille are markedly different from those found in other authors of the period. This is but one aspect of a larger issue concerning Corneille's placement in the hallowed pantheon of literary history. He is one of the major canonical authors and yet he often disconcerts. He was one of the principal theorists of drama in the seventeenth century and yet he took a number of stands in direct and lonely opposition to his peers. Alain Couprie points out that Corneille "a toujours été un auteur ...


Pompée's Absence In Corneille's 'La Mort De Pompée', Nina Ekstein Jan 2003

Pompée's Absence In Corneille's 'La Mort De Pompée', Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Corneille's La Mort de Pompée (1643) occupies a curious position in the playwright's oeuvre, coming as it does immediately after the tetralogy. Faced with the never-ending artistic challenge of what to do next, what features to keep from earlier works, how to innovate and thereby captivate his audience, how to outdo his latest success, Corneille made some daring choices in this play. Indeed, this play is commonly viewed as a significant point in Corneille's oeuvre, one at which the playwright moves off in a radically new direction. It is my contention that the basic choice to keep ...


Knowing Irony: The Problem Of Corneille, Nina Ekstein Jan 2003

Knowing Irony: The Problem Of Corneille, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Irony and knowledge exist in a problematic relationship to each other, one that is strikingly similar to that between knowledge and secrets. If irony becomes unambiguously obvious, that is, known to all, it is no longer perceived as irony. And a secret is not a secret if it is widely known. By the same token, someone must perceive irony in order for it to exist, just as a secret must be known by someone. Thus the question of whether a given author is ironic is unlikely to have a clear, unambiguous answer. The probable lack of final clarity does not ...


Women And Marriage In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein Jan 2002

Women And Marriage In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Marriage is ubiquitous in Corneille's theater: there is not a single one of his plays in which marriage is not an issue, in which at least one union is not proposed. In part this state of affairs is due to the fact that the vast majority of Corneille's characters are marriageable. While marriageability is hardly unusual among the young, Corneille inevitably takes his characters at precisely the dramatic moment when the choice of life partner is to be made. For Corneille, that moment is not even limited to the young; not infrequently older characters are in need of ...


Sophonisbe's Seduction: Corneille Writing Against Mairet, Nina Ekstein Jan 2002

Sophonisbe's Seduction: Corneille Writing Against Mairet, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Rewriting the subjects of tragedies was so common throughout the seventeenth century as to be a defining characteristic of the period. While originality was the rule in comedy, in tragedy it was disdained. The arrangement of the action, the power and beauty of the language. the originality of the articulation of the more or less ancient plot: these were the badges of the tragic virtuoso. Rewriting was both a compliment to the predecessor and an act of appropriation, a theft not so much of the subject as of authority over the subject. The tragic playwright rewrote with a presumption of ...


Uncertainty In Corneille's Héraclius, Nina Ekstein Oct 2001

Uncertainty In Corneille's Héraclius, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Scholars agree that Héraclius (1646) occupies the extreme point of plot complication in the Cornelian oeuvre. Numerous events have occurred prior to the action of the play, events that are necessary to the spectators' understanding of what transpires onstage. Twenty years before the play opens, Phocas assassinated the emperor Maurice as well as his sons and took his throne. Léontine, the royal governess, switched the youngest of Maurice's sons, Héraclius, with her own son, thus sacrificing the latter's life so that the royal blood of Maurice might survive. Not long after, Léontine made a second substitution, this time ...


Mithridate, Displacement, And The Sea, Nina Ekstein Jan 1998

Mithridate, Displacement, And The Sea, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

When Mithridate opens, the king is rumored dead in Colchide, killed by the Romans in battle. His return by sea at the end of the first act is not merely a surprise, but also a temporal, geographical, and almost metaphysical displacement. Mithridate's homecoming turns everything upside down and brings the full force of incest to the amorous rivalry between Phamace and Xipharès. Having successfully spread rumors of his own demise, Mithridate seems to return from the dead, arriving after an absence of a year, from a relatively distant land by the waters of the Pont-Euxin (the Black Sea). Life ...


The Second Woman In The Theater Of Villedieu, Nina Ekstein Apr 1996

The Second Woman In The Theater Of Villedieu, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Best known for her prose fiction, Marie-Catherine Desjardins de Villedieu was also a successful playwright. Her three tragi-comedies (Manlius, Nitétis, and Le Favori), while significantly dissimilar in many respects, share an unusual feature. All three plays foreground the figure of the second woman, second because her role is clearly less central to the play's action than that of another woman character. In each case, the relationships between this second woman and the other characters of the play defy the traditional categories of the seventeenth-century stage. Furthermore, the second woman is not an object of desire. The differences between the ...


A Woman's Tragedy: Catherine Bernard's 'Brutus', Nina Ekstein Jan 1995

A Woman's Tragedy: Catherine Bernard's 'Brutus', Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The theater has traditionally been a male domain. The ranks of authors, directors, and even actors have long been overwhelmingly dominated by men. In Western drama, no women playwrights have gained admittance to the literary canon. While never absolute, the relative exclusion of women from dramatic authorship is even greater when the type of theater in question is tragedy. Carol Gelderman asks bluntly: "Why is it that no woman has ever written a great tragedy?". A number of explanations have been put forward that suggest deep-seated links between men and tragedy: Susan Gilbert and Susan Gubar find that "the structure ...


The Destabilization Of The Future In Racine's Iphigénie, Nina Ekstein May 1993

The Destabilization Of The Future In Racine's Iphigénie, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The action of Racine's Iphigénie is only a prelude, a pretext, to a much greater future event. The Trojan War looms large before the entire dramatic universe, drawing the characters inexorably forward. The force of the future in this play has long been evident: Georges Poulet discussed it in relation to the weight of the past in Andromaque: "[o]uvrant ou fermant un récit, le moment de l'action perd donc presque entièrement sa valeur propre, sa qualité de seul moment 'présent.' . . . Sa 'réalité' n'est pas assez riche en soi pour triompher d'un passé ou d'un ...


The Weight Of The Future In Racine's Theater, Nina Ekstein Jan 1993

The Weight Of The Future In Racine's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The future has a curious status in the theater. Like the past, it cannot be represented on stage, but is limited to the field of discourse. The future can be spoken, but not literally pre-figured. Purely textual, lacking any referent, concretized or otherwise, the future appears essentially alien to the theater. For Anne Ubersfeld, "le problème fondamental du temps au théâtre est qu'il se situe par rapport à un icimaintenant ... le théâtre est ce qui par nature nie la présence du passé et du futur. L’écriture théâtrale est une écriture au présent." Yet the future constitutes an important ...


Pyrame And Thisbé: Lost In A "Minimalist" World, Nina Ekstein Jan 1991

Pyrame And Thisbé: Lost In A "Minimalist" World, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Discussions of Les Amours tragiques de Pyrame et Thisbé generally center on the eponymous couple. Young star-crossed lovers, opposed by all who surround them, doomed to death, Pyrame and Thisbé belong to a long tradition in Western literature. What I believe merits greater attention is the dramatic world in which the lovers' tragedy unfolds. The young couple occupies the center of the play, but Thisbé and Pyrame seem curiously out of place in, and at odds with, their environment in all its particulars, from characters to objects to scenic space. The two characters are lost in the dramatic universe of ...


The Portrait On Stage In Molière's Theater, Nina Ekstein Feb 1989

The Portrait On Stage In Molière's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Literary portraits, while common in a wide variety of genres, are not often thought of in connection with the stage. Discussions of dramaturgy make little mention of portraits, which is perhaps not surprising when one considers that theater is the domain of action, movement, and conflict; the portrait, on the contrary, is primarily descriptive. Verbal portraiture would not seem to be terribly effective in a theatrical context: it is unlikely to advance the action of the play, nor would it lend itself readily to gesture and movement. Theater requires the physical presence of its object, portraiture depends on a certain ...


Le Misanthrope And Tartuffe: Two Critiques Of Verbal Portraiture, Nina Ekstein Jan 1989

Le Misanthrope And Tartuffe: Two Critiques Of Verbal Portraiture, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Portraiture is a deeply rooted and characteristics feature of seventeenth-century France. Verbal portraits abound in the literature of the period. By the time Molière wrote Le Misanthrope and Tartuffe (1664-1669), the «gallant» portrait had already known a great vogue, first with Mlle de Scudéry's Grand Cyrus (1649-53) and Clélie (1654-61), and then in the salons of the nobility and the bourgeoisie, as reflected in the Divers Portraits (1659) and the Recueil de Portraits et Eloges (1659). Adaptations of the verbal portrait would later appear in memoirs, letters, sermons, novels, and «caractères», remaining an important force in literature to the ...


The Comic Récit: Les Plaideurs, Nina Ekstein Jan 1985

The Comic Récit: Les Plaideurs, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Récits are a standard feature of the French classical theater. While normally associated with tragedy (e.g. the famous "récit de Théramène"), seventeenth-century comedy adopted the use of dramatic narrative and adapted it for its own ends. In an examination of the comic récit, two questions arise immediately: how is the récit in comedy different from, first the tragic récit, and second other segments of a comedy?


Narrative Reliability And Spatial Limitations In Bajazet, Nina Ekstein Oct 1984

Narrative Reliability And Spatial Limitations In Bajazet, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Récits are a standard feature in the classical theater, commonly used to bring information to an onstage universe which is limited by the unities of time and place. Action which occurs before the opening of the play finds its natural expression, given the convention of beginning the play in medias res, in narrative form. These are the récits of exposition. Bajazet is unusually rich in such récits: Acomat recounts Amurat's actions, Bajazet's youth, Acomat's own past, and how Roxane came to be able to see Bajazet (I, i, ll. 115-42, 145-56); and Atalide explains how she and ...


Andromaque. V,V: Disorder, Irony, And Progression, Nina Ekstein Jan 1983

Andromaque. V,V: Disorder, Irony, And Progression, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The denouement of Andromaque (V,v), as is the case in most tragedies, brings with it a return to order, but the impression of order lies off stage with Andromaque's ascension to the throne rather than on stage with Oreste and Pylade. On stage, disorder reigns, and this disorder is a result of several factors: the pressing necessity of a quick departure, Oreste's madness, and, significantly, the ironic instability of language in this scene. This instability takes the form of statements whose meaning later changes in the light of some subsequent action or information. Such shifts in meaning ...


The Functions Of The Récit In L'Ecole Des Femmes, Nina Ekstein Jan 1983

The Functions Of The Récit In L'Ecole Des Femmes, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Since L'Ecole des femmes was first performed in 1662, much mention has been made of the numerous récits in the play. In La Critique de l'Ecole des femmes, Lysidas criticizes the play because "dans cette comédie-ci, il ne se passe point d'actions, et tout consiste en des récits que vient faire Agnès ou Horace.'' Indeed, the entire love intrigue takes place offstage and is reported in the form of récits. Far from being tiresome recitals, these narratives are integrated into the structure of the play on numerous levels.