Moliere; Jean Baptiste Poquelin
Dramatist, born Paris, France, 1622; died there, 1673.
He studied under the Jesuits in Paris, graduated in law at Orleans, and in 1643, changed his name to Moliere, and joined the "troop" of the Béjart and in conjunction with them started L'Illustre Théâtre which proved a failure.
His first important play "Les Precieuses Ridicules," was presented in Paris, 1659, and from then on his literary production was uninterrupted despite the opposition of those he had offended by depicting them too faithfully; his family troubles, his tremendous responsibilities as a manager, as an actor who regularly assumed the most difficult roles, and as a playwright who was often compelled to compose with extreme rapidity.
Outside of the many "Farces" which contribute little to his glory, Moliere wrote a group of comedies in which he is little concerned with plot and denouement, but in which he depicts in immortal "types" the foibles and ridiculousness of humanity at large: the Miser, the Misanthrope, the Hypocrite, the Pedantic Woman, the Parvenu, the Quaek.
His masterpieces are: "Le Misanthrope," "L'Avare," "Tartuffe," which provoked long and bitter controversies, because, while seemingly attacking false devotion only, Moliere indirectly throws discredit upon true piety also; "Les Femmes Savantes," "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme," "Le Malaae Imaginaire."
Moliere is the true father of French comedy and some of his characters are destined to live forever.
New Catholic Dictionary