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The Misanthrope

The Misanthrope


The Misanthrope

ratings:
4/5 (9 ratings)
Length:
1 hour
Released:
Apr 30, 2007
ISBN:
9781580816915
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Razor-sharp wit inflames a competitive game of survival in the salons of 17th century France where, in this world of “finest appearances,” one man’s blunt honesty shatters his society’s delicate web of manners. Often considered to be Molière’s Hamlet, The Misanthrope is a wickedly scathing satire. Translated by Richard Wilbur. A Court Theatre co-production.



An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring:



Harry Althaus as Acaste

Amy Farrington as Éliante

Bradford Farwell as Philinte

Sean Fortunado as Guard of the Marshalsea

David Frutkoff as Basque

Kevin Gudahl as Alceste

Ora Jones as Arsinoé

Chad Kelderman as Dubois

John Reeger as Oronte

Hollis Resnik as Célimène

Larry Yando as Clitandre



Directed by Charles Newell. Recorded before a live audience at the DoubleTree Guest Suites, Chicago in April of 1996.
Released:
Apr 30, 2007
ISBN:
9781580816915
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Molière (1622–1673), born Jean-Baptise Poquelin, was a widely renowned French poet, playwright, and actor.

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What people think about The Misanthrope

3.9
9 ratings / 10 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Some months ago, I went to see Molière's play Le Misanthrope at the Théâtre du Ranelagh in Paris. I last saw it a few years ago but, with the help of age, I had forgotten some of the details. So, even if the production wasn't that great it was good to hear this masterpiece of social satire once again.

    I won't repeat the whole plot of The Misanthrope, but here are some lines from the Wikipedia resume (Alceste is the misanthrope):

    "The plot... involves a trial before the Royal Court of France that results from Alceste's refusal to praise Oronte's love poetry. Alceste typically refuses to dole out false compliments, and this is the practice that lands him in court. ...Philinte represents a foil for Alceste's moral extremism, and speaks throughout the first act of the play on the necessity of self-censorship and polite flattery to smooth over the rougher textures of a complex society. Alceste, on the other hand, believes that people should be completely honest and should not put on pretenses just to be considered polite in society. Alceste loses the court case. Eventually, Alceste's inability to cope with society and its inescapable affectations causes him to forsake the woman he loves..."

    If Molière had not died long before Amazon.com came into existence I would have suspected him of plagiarizing some recent conversations I have seen in Amazon reader forums in which writers plug their books and solicit reviews. The forum conversations are usually genteel but they can get very catty if one contributor decides to post a negative one-star review of another writer's book to Amazon or post a 'spoiler' that will ruin the surprise ending.

    The play thus shows that the dangers involved in reviewing another writer's work, or being reviewed oneself, are not new. Molière came in for an immense amount of both fair and unfair criticism in his time, so he was as well placed as any modern writer to understand the importance of harsh criticism. His skin was thicker than most because the actors and actresses of his time were considered so low on the social scale that they didn't have the right to be buried in hallowed ground. After his death Molière's body was thrown into the paupers' pit outside the Père Lachaise cemetery.
  • (4/5)
    This is a simple and straight-forward drama. Alceste has his ideals but is in love with a woman who falls short of them. There are a number of amusing characters who come and go and a pair of likeable people that I wanted to see more of.
  • (4/5)
    Moliere has long been on my to-read list because his comedies were on a list of "100 Significant Books" I was determined to read through. The introduction in one of the books of his plays says that of his "thirty-two comedies... a good third are among the comic masterpieces of world literature." The plays are surprisingly accessible and amusing, even if by and large they strike me as frothy and light compared to comedies by Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Wilde, Shaw and Rostand. But I may be at a disadvantage. I'm a native New Yorker, and looking back it's amazing how many classic plays I've seen on stage, plenty I've seen in filmed adaptation and many I've studied in school. Yet I've never encountered Moliere before this. Several productions of Shakespeare live and filmed are definitely responsible for me love of his plays. Reading a play is really no substitute for seeing it--the text is only scaffolding. So that might be why I don't rate these plays higher. I admit I also found Wilbur's much recommended translation off-putting at first. The format of rhyming couplets seemed sing-song and trite, as if I was reading the lyrics to a musical rather than a play. As I read more I did get used to that form, but I do suspect these are the kinds of works that play much better on stage than on the page.Misanthrope was the first Moliere play I ever read, and arguably the most famous of all his plays. The introduction in what might seem an oxymoron calls it a comic King Lear, and I can see that side of it. As comic as this might read, it is basically a tragedy about the young man Alceste, the "misanthrope" of the play, who makes such a fetish of always being honest he alienates everyone around him. The character I enjoyed the most was definitely the malicious Arsinoe who plays the prude. The catty scenes between her and Alceste's love Celimene is particularly hilarious.
  • (4/5)
    "Le Misanthrope" by Moliére tells the story of Alceste, who lives in a society where people are cluttering each other with compliments to not hurt the opponent in a conversation - and to get the compliments back. Therefore, Alceste says, serious compliments would lose its worth. That's why he tries to be a "good" example and always tells his opponent what he really thinks about them. Of course, the protagonist makes more enemies than friends with this method. To make the story more interesting, there also is Clemente, ensnared by various men, including Alceste. For whom will she decide?A superb satire on society; encourages to think.
  • (3/5)
    "... Everywhere I find nothing but base flattery, injustice, self-interest, deceit, roguery. I cannot bear it any longer; I am furious; and my intention is to break with all mankind.” – Alceste, Act 1, Scene 1I started reading the book before election results; after the elections, these words take on a whole new meaning.Alceste is the protagonist and the official “misanthrope” of the story. A straight-shooter and brutally candid, he criticizes the love verses of a fellow nobleman, Oronte, who takes him to court over such an insult. Meanwhile, the reader learns Alceste, Oronte, Acaste, and Clitandre all favor one twenty-year-old socialite – Célimène, who is charismatically vocal and a flirt. Meanwhile, Célimène’s jealous older friend, Arsinoé, pines for Alceste and adds salt to every wound she can find. Two characters, Philinte (friend of Alceste) and Éliante (cousin of Célimène) were the only two honest and faithful’s, who were rewarded with each other’s love. Molière’s 1666 ‘The Misanthrope’ play is more focused on character development than plot progression. Having had two previous plays (‘Tartuffe’ and ‘Dom Juan’) banned by the French government, this one is typically viewed as one of Molière’s more restrained tales even though once again, the nobility is ridiculed (who then complains to the government). Officially a comedy, I must admit that I did not laugh once; I even winced. Reading this, I have visions of Kirsten Dunst in ‘Marie Antoninette’ in the role of Célimène. Surrounded by her admirers, Célimène criticizes various acquaintances as they all laugh at her verbal abuses for entertainment. To their surprise, dun-dun-dun, Célimène has a few choice words about them too, and they all abandon her. Despite Alceste with his misanthropic tendencies being the supposed humor of this comedy, I found some of his words as well as those of Philinte’s to be thought-provoking. When the world is going haywire, does it make sense to retreat and do a ‘Captain Fantastic’? As for Célimène, not an angel herself, she took the blunt of the hate, even though everyone had encouraged and endorsed her behavior. All in all, except for the last scene, this play had saddened me. Some quotes:On love:Éliante: “…in the beloved all things become lovable. They think their faults perfections, and invent sweet terms to call them by. The pale one vies with the jessamine in fairness; another, dark enough to frighten people, become an adorable brunette; the lean one has a good shape and is lithe; the stout one has a portly and majestic bearing; the slattern, who has few charms, passes under the name of a careless beauty; the giantess seems a very goddess in their sight; the dwarf is an epitome of all the wonders of Heaven; the proud one has a soul worthy of a diadem; the artful brims with wit; the silly one is very good-natured; the chatterbox is good-tempered; and the silent one modest and reticent. Thus a passionate swain loves even the very faults of those of whom he is enamored.” On virtue:Philinte: “All human failings give us, in life, the means of exercising our philosophy. It is the best employment for virtue; and if probity reigned everywhere, if all hearts were candid, just, and tractable, most of our virtues would be useless to us, inasmuch as their functions are to bear, without annoyance, the injustice of others in our good cause; and just in the same way as a heart full of virtue.”
  • (4/5)
    A rather dark comedy, which reinforced my dislike of the main female character, which I acquired after seeing this play performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Though I adored the iambic pentameter.
  • (3/5)
    While Alceste is certainly a 1600s Dolph Adomian, the play doesn't have enough build and it sort of flounders. It's another issue with old humor not being effective enough in modern times. I definitely approve of abandoning society to live in the forest though.
  • (3/5)
    Not as good as Tartuffe, but still a wonderful play. The writing and humor hold up well. The societal conventions that are lampooned have not changed that much either.
  • (4/5)
    I listened to this as part of the digital audiobook of "The Moliere Collection" - this was the 6th and final play of the collection, though I listened to it 5th.The L.A. Theatre Works recording of this Richard Wilbur translation was excellent & the play is one of Molière's best.
  • (4/5)
    Almost alone at the office between christmas and New Year's, I find the time to read this classic. This is one of the few major Moliére plays I've never seen a performance of, and it's been ages since I read it too. Moliére is never as fun to read as to - sometimes - see staged. The comedy is rarely in the lines themselves, but rather in the situations, the potential of the text. Therefore, I find his plays are best read fairly slowly.Which I, this time, didn't do.Still, I enjoyed revisiting the story of Alceste, choking on the gossip and fakeness of high society and demanding full honesty from everybody, and his reluctant love for the sharp-tongued gossip Céliméne. There are some good situations derived from the premise, the funniest one probably being when he's asked to comment on a horrible piece of poetry. Moliére is also good at looking at things from two sides - Alceste is honest and upstanding, but because of this also more than a little annoying. The middle road of his friends Philinte and Éliante - trying to be honest but not being rude or stupid about it - is presented as a more sensible approach.The strangely open ending is not quite satisfactory. But on the other hand it has a rather true ring to it. Not everything can end in a happy landing - sometimes people are just too far apart.