Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Dion, Nicholas, «Entre les larmes et l’effroi. Inflexions élégiaques et horrifiques dans le théâtre tragique, de l’âge classique aux Lumières (1677-1726)», Québec et Paris, Université Laval et Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne, thèse de doctorat en cotutelle, 2010, 641 p. Dir. : Éric Van der Schueren (Université Laval) et Delphine Denis (Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne).

This thesis investigates tragedies written between Racine’s retirement (1677) and the beginnings of a renewal of the poetics of tragedy in the 1730s, a period marked by the interruption of the careers of Crébillon and La Motte, the publication of La Motte’s Discours and Père Brumoy’s Le Théâtre des Grecs as well as young Voltaire’s return from England. First, it examines the ossification of the theatre and the poetics of tragedy in connection with early attempts to define the genre of elegy that highlight the porosity of the two genres, along with a revival of the aesthetics of horror arising from direct competition between the Comédie-Française and the successful lyrical tragedies of the Palais-Royal. Conclusions are subsequently applied to a study of the poetic and dramaturgical components of the era’s tragedies, based on an analysis of the modulations of elegy and horror that emerge from structural effects created by conflicting interpretations of the concept of simplicity. The modulations that permeate the character typology and the relationships between political plots and love plots are then analyzed from the same angle. Lastly, the thesis concludes with an exploration of the role of the motifs of horror and elegy in the pursuit of tragic effect, more specifically with regard to tears and fright, and the adaptation of the ancient model of the Heroïdes for French theatre, in which these two trends are combined.

Keywords : theatre, tragedy, poetics, dramaturgy, elegy, horror

Publication : Dion, Nicholas, Entre les larmes et l’effroi. La tragédie classique française, 1677-1726, Paris, Classiques Garnier, coll. «Lire le XVIIe siècle», 14, série «Théâtre», 1, 2012, 465 p.

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