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By C. J. Gossip (auth.)

ISBN-10: 1349045187

ISBN-13: 9781349045181

ISBN-10: 1349045209

ISBN-13: 9781349045204

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By Racine's time the single-set palais avolante was established as the only possible decor. Michel Laurent tells us that minimal local colour, according to the theme of the play, was added to the standard setting. Andromaque (1667) needed 'a colonnaded palace and, in the background, a sea with ships'. Racine's next tragedy, Britannicus (1669), set at Nero's court, required as props two doors, two armchairs for Act IV and curtains. Three years later Baja;:;et, set in Constantinople, called for 'a Turkish-style drawing-room', plus two daggers.

Indirect, second-hand knowledge by means of critics and correspondents is an important matter we shall look at later. But the printed text of the play, on which subsequent commentators and others interested in French classical tragedy have had to depend so largely, offers readers a direct experience, different from a live performance, but valuable nonetheless. As has been mentioned, certain seventeenth-century dramatists were to all intents and purposes attached to particular theatre troupes: Hardy and Rotrou, for example, wrote many of their plays specifically for the Hotel de Bourgogne and got paid accordingly.

Add stature to the trimmings of the roomMarble facade and jasper colonnade, Pillars with drums and capitals arranged ... And on the backdrop where you paint your skies Make them appear more natural to the eyes. They look somewhat funereal to me! The painter retorts that time was short and in any case it was better to leave things as they were: the foreshortenings and perspectives were best seen from a distance and colours appeared brighter. By the date of Corneille's Horace (1640)-five years after his first tragedy Midee and three after the performance of his tragi-comic tragedy Le Cid, with its multiple decor-the single set was beginning to be introduced in France, although it did not immediately oust the older form.

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An Introduction to French Classical Tragedy by C. J. Gossip (auth.)

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