Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

June 2002


Published in Classical Unities: Place, Time, Action: Actes du 32o congres annuel de la North American Society for Seventeenth Century French Literature. Tulane University, 13-15 avril 2000. Edites par Erec R. Koch. Tubingen: Biblio 17, Band 131. (2002), pages 315–24. (ISBN: 3-8233-5543-0) Copyright © 2002 Gunter Narr Verlag, Used by permission.


This study situates itself within a current trend in Racinian scholarship to accentuate the political dimensions of Racine’s dramaturgy. Recently, Timothy Reiss, Suzanne Gearhart, and Alain Viala, among others, have emphasized the socio-political aspects of Racine’s oeuvre in part to counteract the mid twentieth-century notion that Racine’s classicism, if not his work in general, is based almost exclusively on the psychological representation of plot and character. I will argue that to a significant extent, the nature – «classical» or other – of Racine’s drama is also founded on a keen sense of the historic as it relates to the contemporary.