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Reviewed by:
  • Philippe Néricault Destouches, Théâtre complet ed. by Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval et Catherine Ramond
  • Derek Connon
Philippe Néricault Destouches, Théâtre complet. Sous la direction de Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-DiéVal et Catherine Ramond. Tome i. Édition de Christelle Bahier-Porte, John Dunkley, Ioana Galleron, Judith Le Blanc, Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval, Catherine Ramond Et FrançOise Rubellin. (Bibliothèque du théâtre français, 41.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018. 1128 pp.

This Very Substantial Volume Is The First In A Projected four-volume edition of the complete theatrical works of Philippe Néricault Destouches; the overall plan is set out towards the end of the Introduction. Given that the last complete edition of Destouches's plays was Louis Moland's of 1878 (Paris: Garnier), a modern critical edition of the works of this important dramatist, second only in popularity to Voltaire during the first half of the eighteenth century, is long overdue. The chronological presentation means that we will have to wait until volume II for the author's most famous plays, but there are nevertheless worthwhile works here. This extensive volume finds room for almost all the plays written before the ten-year hiatus in Destouches's dramatic career caused by his absence on diplomatic duties in Britain; only the last of these will have to wait for volume II. And it provides evidence of the diversity of the author's activities at this stage in his career, with plays for the Théâtre français rubbing shoulders with, on one hand, contributions to the Grandes Nuits de Sceaux and, on the other, a collaboration with Louis Fuzelier on an opéra-comique for the Fair theatre. As the general Introduction, which serves to introduce the whole edition, not just this volume, reminds us, Destouches's reputation as a purveyor of comédie moralisante in which the central character implausibly sees the light and reforms at the end, resulted from changes requested by the leading actor in Le Glorieux, it is not found in any of the comedies in the present volume, and despite the tendency of the paratexts to stress the moral function of comedy, moralizing is not something that characterizes all of the plays in his varied output. The strong editorial team includes two scholars who have already edited plays by Destouches; indeed, if L'Irrésolu is the best-known work in this volume, that is surely due at least in part to John Dunkley's excellent edition from 1995 (Paris: Société des textes français modernes; see my review in MLR, 93 (1998), 225), so it makes perfect sense that he should return to that text here. We will have to await volume II for the play previously edited by Françoise Rubellin (Les Philosophes amoureux), but her enthusiastic advocacy of the theatre of the Fairs makes her the ideal editor for the opéra-comique, Le jaloux, in this volume. Each play is accompanied by the relevant paratexts and has a detailed individual introduction; there is also a chronology of Destouches's life and a clearly arranged bibliography. The editors have been given some freedom in their approaches, which does lead to some inconsistencies in presentation in the introductions, but this is not really a cause for concern. Still, the inclusion of samples of the music for only one of the plays with musical elements does seem like a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, this is a small criticism of what is a very welcome initiative, and I look forward to the subsequent volumes. [End Page 290]

Derek Connon
Swansea University
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
p. 290
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-17
Open Access
No
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