In this entertaining book, a playwright and theater critic presents up-to-date and witty translations of three classic comedies of French theater: Alain-René Lesage’s satire Turcaret, Pierre Marivaux’s love comedy The Triumph of Love, and Eugène Labiche’s farce Eating Crow. James Magruder’s translations capture the humor and imagination of the original texts and significantly extend the English-language repertory of French comedies.
Magruder’s enlightening introduction sets each play within the context of its author’s oeuvre and the theatrical culture of its time. Turcaret, written in the eighteenth century, is the tale of a high-stakes entrepreneur who, along with every other character, is irredeemably craven and genially amoral. This play of sexual intrigue, greed, and bad manners, says Magruder, was revolutionary in the history of drama for its lack of a moral cynosure. A second eighteenth-century play, The Triumph of Love, makes self-reflection and self-consciousness both the substance and obstacles of the action, as it focuses on the tireless efforts of Princess Léonide to woo Agis and his guardians. Eating Crow, written in the nineteenth century and never before translated into English, is a hilarious story of excesses that takes aim at stockbrokers, skinflints, dowagers, dandies, and paralegals, among others.
“The adaptations establish a faithful, comic rhythm and do an excellent job of conveying the spirit of the original for a current audience.”—Choice
“The ancient authors knew that the essential comic urges are food, sex, and money. Magruder presents three comedies based on them.”—Reference & Research Book News
Winner of the 1997 Outstanding Translation of the Year Award given by the American Literary Translators Association
“Magruder has a remarkable command of the French language and a playwright’s talent for writing for the stage. These translations not only comprise a useful teaching anthology, they are also vital, actable scripts.”—Deidre Dawson, Georgetown University
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