Corneille, Pierre

[Pierre Corneille] Dramatist, born Rouen, France, 1606; died Paris, France, 1684. He was educated by the Jesuits, and, after admission to the bar, devoted himself to literature. His early comedies attracted the attention of Richelieu, who employed him for a time to revise his own plays. In 1636 the success of "Le Cid," which marked a new epoch in French drama, angered Richelieu, who had it severely criticized by the Academy. After four years of silence, "Horace" and "Cinna" appeared, and from that time till 1651 Corneille produced a series of plays, mostly masterpieces; "Polyeucte" was perhaps his crowning triumph. Sincerely devout, he pursued a lofty ideal in his work and portrayed characters whose heroism, sense of duty, and readiness for self-sacrifice set a standard of the highest morality. He completed a translation of the "Imitation of Christ" in 1656.

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