That love so crucial to tragedy. Eros and passion in Racine's theatre

Start - End 
2014 - 2018 (completed)
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Research Period 
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French literature



As Jean Racine (1639-1699) himself stated, love is “crucial to tragedy”, and the question was a central concern for his contemporaries: philosophers, theologians, moralists and theatre critics engaged in fierce debates on the nature of love and passion. Nowadays, however, the importance of the theme of love in the Grand Siècle, in general, and in Racine’s work, in particular, is often neglected. My project investigates how Racine’s work is engaged in the seventeenth-century philosophical debate about the nature of love. Not only did Racine translate Plato’s seminal text on love, the “Symposium”, but his theatre presents every inflection of love in the seventeenth century, from vulgar desire to celestial Eros, from gallantry to passion. Furthermore, love may even have been the key to Racine’s success, for his theatre met the demands of a new, bourgeois and feminine audience, which sought to express its identity through love stories.



Phd Student(s)