LIERE'S TARTUFFE by Richard- Trans. Wilbur


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A few seasons ago Richard Wilbur scored a stunning success translating Le Misanthrope; now he scores again with Tartuffe- or almost. For while the English equivalents still serve up a sparkling, spirited sort of drawing-room verse, Misanthrope is major Moliere, Tartuffe only minor. Of course both plays are studies in social hypocrisy, but whereas in the former, Alceste, the inflexible idealist, is pitted so subtly, at times insidiously, against the frivolous realism of Celimene, in the latter, Tartuffe, the religious poseur, goes scalawagging through scene after scene before his benefactor, Orgon, a bumptious, bigoted bourgeois, at last sees the light. Wilbur, in his introduction, divines a deeper interpretation with Orgon as both Tartuffe's victim and victimizer, but against the formal, farcical intrigues, the limited epigrammatic elegance and the consistent couplets (""No, I must stop that scoundrel's machinations/I'll go and tell him off; I'm out of patience""), such an interpretation seems rather forced. Nevertheless, all reservations noted, we are once again most definitely in Mr. Wilbur's debt- and enjoying it, too.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1963
Publisher: arcourt, Brace & World