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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 ...


Time, Space, And The Question Of Heroism In Sertorius, Nina Ekstein Apr 2009

Time, Space, And The Question Of Heroism In Sertorius, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

This article examines the exceptional role Corneille gives to the dimensions of time and space in Sertorius, one of the playwright’s later tragedies. In contrast to Corneille’s general dramatic practice, in which the two dimensions are relatively neglected, here they are foregrounded and serve as a framework for Sertorius’s tragedy. His relationship to time—he is essentially a man of the past to whom the future will be denied—and to space—immobilized in Nertobridge while aching to return to Rome—restricts him and prevents forward movement in either realm. Furthermore, time and space provide a vital ...


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 ...


Corneille's Absent Characters, Nina Ekstein Jan 2004

Corneille's Absent Characters, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The relationship between presence and absence in theater is intertwined and complex. For Kibédi Varga, a work of art invariably signifies absence in that it proposes an image, a representation, rather than the thing itself (341-42). This is obviously true of theater. At the same time, theater is essentially about presence. The empty stage is a space that derives its potential for force and meaning from the expectation of live bodies engaged in concrete actions there. Perhaps more to the point, theater is about the dialectical relationship between absence and presence. According to Fuchs, "theatre is ever the presence of ...


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 ...


Metaphors Of Mathematics In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein Apr 2002

Metaphors Of Mathematics In Corneille's Theater, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Mathematical metaphors are a distinctive and characteristic feature of Corneille’s theater, closely tied to his dramatic aesthetics. I divide these metaphors into two groups, identities and combinatorics. The field of identities deals with different kinds of equations, from the level of language, where elements are equated or placed in some other relationship that can be expressed mathematically, to the level of plot, where, for example, the search for identity (e.g. who is Héraclius?) resembles an algebraic equation. Combinatorics involves the arrangements and combinations of elements, and finds its greatest application here in the question of the constitution of ...


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 ...


Le Change In Corneille And Racine, Nina Ekstein Jan 2001

Le Change In Corneille And Racine, Nina Ekstein

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Le Change is a concept typically associated in the seventeenth century with the baroque, with the pastoral, and with comedy. In the simplest terms, a lover abandons the object of his or her affections for another. In baroque aesthetics, change is linked to the larger concepts of mobility and metamorphosis (Rousset 44). It is a common motif in the pastoral as well, both in drama and prose fiction. The classic pastoral figure of change is Hylas from Honoré d'Urfé's Astrée, who moves cavalierly from one mistress to the next. Invariably in seventeenth-century France, change is held to be ...