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Molière

1622–1673
Plays
Works on Greatest lists
Greatest Literature

The School for Wives (1662)

Tartuffe (1664)

The Misanthrope (1666)

The Bourgeois Gentleman (1970)

Greatest Plays

The School for Wives (1662)

Tartuffe (1664)

The Misanthrope (1666)

The Miser (1666)

The Bourgeois Gentleman (1970)

The Imaginary Invalid (1673)

Related commentaries
Tartuffe

It is hard to understand exactly why Tartuffe was once attacked by religious authorities. Molière's target is the title character who presents a pious outer appearance.... more

The Misanthrope

The Misanthrope reads at first like one of those overheated old Russian novels in which everyone talks and talks, all very excitedly, while the action happens elsewhere. It's certainly.... more

The Bourgeois Gentleman

There's so much to enjoy here, it's surprising this is not Molière's most popular play. After its initial run of twenty performances, it was hardly performed for several centuries until.... more

Molière

THE AUTHOR | THE WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES

On books, writers and writing

1669

Here is a comedy that has excited a good deal of discussion and that has been under attack for a long time; and the persons who are mocked by it have made it plain that they are more powerful in France than all whom my plays have satirized up to this time. Noblemen, ladies of fashion, cuckolds, and doctors all kindly consented to their presentation, which they themselves seemed to enjoy along with everyone else; but hypocrites do not understand banter: they became angry at once, and found it strange that I was bold enough to represent their actions and to care to describe a profession shared by so many good men. This is a crime for which they cannot forgive me, and they have taken up arms against my comedy in a terrible rage. They were careful not to attack it at the point that had wounded them: they are too crafty for that and too clever to reveal their true character. In keeping with their lofty custom, they have used the cause of God to mask their private interests; and Tartuffe, they say, is a play that offends piety: it is filled with abominations from beginning to end, and nowhere is there a line that does not deserve to be burned. Every syllable is wicked, the very gestures are criminal, and the slightest glance, turn of the head, or step from right to left conceals mysteries that they are able to explain to my disadvantage....

Let me finish with the words of a great prince on the comedy, Tartuffe.

Eight days after it had been banned, a play called Scaramouche the Hermit was performed before the court; and the king, on his way out, said to this great prince: "I should really like to know why the persons who make so much noise about Molière's comedy do not say a word about Scaramouche." To which the prince replied, "It is because the comedy of Scaramouche makes fun of Heaven and religion, which these gentlemen do not care about at all, but that of Molière makes fun of them, and that is what they cannot bear."

Preface to Tartuffe

THE AUTHOR | THE WORKS | VIEWS AND QUOTES