Pierre Corneille, in his original dedication for The Theatre of
Illusion, described the play as a "strange monster." He first
called these five acts a comedy; later, a "caprice" and an
"extravagant trifle." Written in 1635 and staged in 1636, the play
vanished from the stage for the next three hundred years--to be
revived in 1937 by Louis Jouvet and the Comedie Francaise. Since
then it has been widely considered, in Virginia Scott's words,
"Corneille's baroque masterpiece."
Today this brilliant piece of wit and drama is available in a
new translation from one of America's finest poets and translators
of French, Richard Wilbur. Widely praised for his translations of
plays by Moliere and Racine, Wilbur now turns his poetic grace to
this work, which remains as much a celebration of the comedy of
humanity and the magic of life as it was when Corneille wrote
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