xxxxxThe French playwright Pierre Corneille gained fame overnight with his tragedy Le Cid. Produced in 1637 and based on the Spanish legendary hero, its conflict between passion and duty caught the public’s imagination. Three other masterpieces followed in quick succession -
PIERRE CORNEILLE 1606 -
Corneille: 17th century portrait, artist unknown – Palace of Versailles, France. Performance: date and artist unknown.
xxxxxCorneille was born in Rouen in 1606 of a middle-
xxxxxThere then followed three major works in the early 1640s, Horace, Cinna and Polyeucte, and these were likewise acclaimed as masterpieces. They were all set in Ancient Rome and in their structure, Corneille complied with what was then known as the "classical unities" of time (one day), place (one "locus"), and action (no subplots). These lofty, dignified neo-
xxxxxBy 1647 he had gained a reputation as the country's leading playwright, and had been granted a government pension. In that year he moved to Paris, and it was here, in the same year, that he was elected to the prestigious French Academy. To the early 1650s belong two of his well-
xxxxxCorneille died in 1684 and was buried in the Church of Saint Roche in Paris. A monument was erected to mark his tomb in 1821. He was one of the greatest French playwrights and a brilliant pioneer in the development of classical theatre in France. Of the many writers who admired his stage work -
xxxxxIncidentally, the source for The Cid was The Youthful Deeds of the Cid, the work of the Spanish dramatist Guillen de Castro y Bellvis, produced in 1618, and it was The Suspicious Truth, by another Spanish dramatist, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón which inspired Le Menteur -