The Tragedy of Primogeniture in Pierre Corneille, Thomas Corneille, and Jean Racine
New Cultural Studies
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
304 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
- ISBN: 9780812235500
- Published: July 2000
Through a study of the evolution of inheritance issues in seventeen tragedies written over the course of half a century the Corneille brothers, Pierre and Thomas, and by Jean Racine, Richard E. Goodkin questions the pervasive assumption that classical tragedy, a form written for the aristocracy, is informed exclusively by an aristocratic ethic.
Instead, a fresh reading of both canonical and noncanonical texts demonstrates that even the most formal body of literature produced by French classical writers expresses a conflict between a declining aristocratic hierarchy based on inherited privilege and a rising capitalistic ethic that favors competition and enterprise.
As Stephen Greenblatt has shown about purgatory for the Elizabethan Age, Goodkin argues that sibling rivalry, a vital and enriching element of tragedy, has been swept off our horizon. The book makes a strong and compelling case for dramatic motivations that we would prefer to forget. In the midst of many elegant and enduring studies of classical theater Goodkin offers compelling interpretation. ~Tom Conley, Harvard University