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AND

POLYEUCTE

BY

PIERRE CORNEILLE

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND REMARKS

BY

WILLIAM A. NITZE

PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

AND NOTES BY

STANLEY L. GALPIN

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES, AMHERST COLLEGE

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NEW YORK

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

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INTRODUCTION

I. CORNEILLE'S PREDECESSORS Of all French dramatists Corneille is in one respect the most important: he appeared at the moment when the drama in France was passing into its modern form, and hè is mainly responsible for the course which it took. To understand him fully is virtually to grasp the principles on which French dramatic art is based. A brief glance at the work of his predecessors will serve to make clear the measure of his achievement.

The sixteenth century marks the beginning of a new era for France. The great wave of spiritual awakening which had risen two centuries earlier in Italy, and which was known as the Renaissance, broke upon French shores. An age of faith was followed by an age of reason, and the rediscovery of antiquity gave to art and literature a stimulus such as they had never had before. In the intellectual turmoil of the middle of the century the drama appeared to start anew. The Brotherhood of the Passion, which had controlled the composition and performance of the mediæval mystery-plays, in a measure still exercised this privilege. But side by side with the plays of mediæval inspiration, there grew up a new literary drama in accord with the new theories of art. Ronsard, the poet and critic of the hour, advocated the example of the Greeks and Romans : do as they had done, and France must produce

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