Pierre (Carlet de Chamblain de) Marivaux

Definition

Theater

  • (1688 - 1763) French playwright, novelist, and journalistwhose work is characterized by an extreme subtlety of language andfeeling. This idiosyncratic style was referred to, originally disparaginglythough now more respectfully, as Marivaudage.
    It is this that constitutes Marivaudage - a fastidiousaffectation in the style, a great subtlety in the feelings, and an immensecomplication in the plots.
    Marie-Nicolas Bouillet: Dictionnaire Universel

    Marivaux began his career as a journalist and haunter of fashionablesalons. In 1720, however, he lost his fortune and quickly producedthree plays, two of which, L'Amour et la Véritéand Arlequin Poli par l'Amour, were performed by the Comédie-Italiennewhilst the third, Annibal, was performed by the Comédie-Française.Although Marivaux continued to write for both companies, the majorityof his plays were written for the Italian troupe, whose productionsproved far more successful, perhaps because they better appreciatedthe refinements of his style.

    In the 20th century Marivaux's sophisticated plotting, keensense of psychological nuance, and strong female roles have gainedincreasing recognition. Recent decades have seen frequent revivalsof his plays by the Comédie-Française. For many yearsit was thought that Marivaux's comedies were virtually untranslatabledue to the subtlety of the language, but several of his works havebeen successfully performed in English since the mid 1970s.

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