Racine's Children: The End of the Line

Wes Williams

in Monsters and their Meanings in Early Modern Culture

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577026
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728662 | DOI:
Racine's Children: The End of the Line

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This exploration of the conjoined figures of monsters and children in Racine begins with the familiar tale of his early passion for the (forbidden) romance, the Aethiopica. It then explores in detail how the plays configure monsters/children as a species of ‘reste’ (or ‘remainder’). The accompanying fantasy that they might conclusively be banished — from the stage, the family, the state, the self — is commonly said to characterize the ‘Racinian’ transfiguration of romance into ‘neo-classical’ theatre, action into speech, politics into passion, materiality into ‘mere’ metaphor: the Rabelaisian world of words is finally cleared of its monsters by that Hercules of poetics, Racine. This chapter argues, rather, that read in context — in relation to the family of monsters explored in this study — the plays articulate a determined resistance. Racine's children, like his monsters, endure; in so doing, they embody the insistence (the ‘mighty magic’) of romance across his work, as across the early modern period.

Keywords: Racine; theatre; romance; children; politics; spectacle; the remainder; biography; Heliodorus's Aethiopica

Chapter.  19717 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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