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Jean Baptiste Racine

Jean Racine (22 December 1639 – 21 April 1699), was one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France (the two other are Molière and Corneille). Racine, a neoclassical master, wrote mostly tragedies such as Phèdre (1677), Andromaque (1677), Athalie (1669), Bérénice (1670), Bajazet (1672), Iphigenia in Aulide (1672) and Britannicus (1669). Racine was the first French playwright to live almost entirely off the earnings from his plays. He was also a member of the French Academy.

Racine had to face great enmity by various parties, most of whom supporting Pierre Corneille. The animosity became so intense that he decided to retire from commercial theater in 1677.

Racine's verse is renowned for elegance and sharpness. The language of Racine is particularly hard to translate. Translations of Lowell, Ted Hughes, and Derek Mahon into English, and of Schiller into German exist.

He died in 1699 from the liver cancer.

Random Quote/Passage:

 "Depuis près de six mois, honteux, désespéré,
Portant partout le trait dont je suis déchiré,
Contre vous, contre moi, vainement je m'éprouve :
Présente, je vous fuis, absente, je vous trouve ;
Dans le fond des forêts votre image me suit;"

"During nearly six months, ashamed, and in despair,
carrying everywhere the arrow with which I have been pierced,
against you, against myself, I vainly tried my strength;
when you are present, I fly from you. When you are absent, I find you.
In the depth of the forests your image pursues me;"
Phèdre - Jean Baptiste Racine

Available Titles in French - English Bilingual Edition (Project Bilingual)


Athalie (Athaliah)

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