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Kingdom of Disorder

Theory of Tragedy in Classical France

by John Lyons

Publication Year: 1999

In this revisionist study of the poetics of tragedy during the French classical age, John Lyons challenges prevailing notions of a coherent, unified, and widely accepted "classical doctrine."

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures


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Title page, Copyright

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pp. vii-xiv

The earth is still fresh on modernity's tomb. The news that we are no longer modem, but postmodern, has reached television and the popular press, and with modernity's retrospective celebrity come its various obituaries. These necrologies, as is customary, start with the time and place of the decedent's...

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p. xv

I thank colleagues who have heard and questioned earlier sketches of the present argument-Georges Forestier, Gerard Defaux, Wilda Anderson, Helene Merlin, Anne Birberick, Kevin Brownlee, Bradley Rubidge, Patrick Henry, Marina. Scordilis Brownlee, Steven Rendall, Thomas Pavel, Milad...

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1. Regularity: Articulating the Aesthetic

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pp. 1-42

Seventeenth-century, French culture did not use the term classicism to describe contemporary changes in literature and the arts. Instead, critics and theorists used the term regulier to indicate the change that occurred in the theater at the time of Corneille. In 1685. Jean Racine, Comeille's younger...

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2. Passion in the Age of Reason

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pp. 43-82

According to the dramatic theories of the seventeenth century, the principal purpose of tragedy is to produce in the spectator or reader overwhelming emotion, driving the spectator beyond the control of reason. Following the emotion of the character, or...

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3. The Tragic Story

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pp. 83-139

What should happen in a tragedy? What kind of story should be presented, what series of events should occur? What should be the relationship between the actions in a tragedy and prevailing ethical norms? These are central questions for the French theorists of tragedy as they were for Aristotle. The...

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4. The "Unities" and the Classical Spectator

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pp. 140-202

In the course of the century, dramatic theory progressively embraced the concepts usually called the unites. The three principal unities (of day, place, and action) were not all mentioned in Aristotle's Poetics—the French were very conscious that the Greeks never mentioned unity of place. However, the unity...

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pp. 203-212

If the dramatic theory of seventeenth-century France inaugurates a certain cultural modernity, it does so by disseminating the concepts of dramatic and literary criticism and by transferring authority from "authors" in the medieval sense to readers (Wood, "Authority and Boileau"). This shift, still obscured by...


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pp. 213-225


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pp. 227-243


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pp. 245-251

E-ISBN-13: 9781612490984
E-ISBN-10: 1612490980
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557531605
Print-ISBN-10: 1557531609

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 1999

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures
Series Editor Byline: Patricia Hart See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 47010095
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Kingdom of Disorder

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • French drama -- Classical influences.
  • Classicism -- France.
  • French drama (Tragedy) -- History and criticism.
  • French drama -- 17th century -- History and criticism.
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