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📙 Le temps fait tout à l’affaire. Conscience de mort et stratégie de vie chez Molière by Richard Sörman — free epub


This monograph deals with awareness of death and life strategy in Molière's comedies. The first part focuses on L'Avare and shows that notions as “action” and “economy” are vital for a conceptual understanding of the play's fundamental topics. The starting point is the recognition of a remarkably high frequency of the word “affaire” in the play, suggest- ing the operating presence of an economy of action in Molière's fictional world that literary criticism has not fully recognized. The miser himself offers an example of a highly dysfunc- tional economy of action. First because he looks upon money as an end in itself though it's so clear that the important presence of money in traditional comedy largely comes from its being a means (and not end) of action and will. Secondly because money tends to become a means of suspending action end enjoyment in the miser's life rather than achieving it: by constantly suspending fulfilment of the virtual value contained in his money, and thus by constantly suspending the achievement of enjoyment of consumption, he lives as if it were possible to overcome the reality of death. This fundamental motivation of the miser's ac- tion also explains his dysfunctional relation to his children and his narcissistic relation to himself. In the second part the perspectives are widened and the general implications of the is- sues discussed in the first part are studied on the basis of Molière's work in general and of some of his contemporary writers as well as of the Antique writers in which the French 17th century sought for inspiration. Molière has a clear Epicurean tendency which exhorts us to enjoy life while we can and to appreciate life as our most valuable gift. While Blaise Pascal can argue with the same economical vocabulary as Molière that life is nothing Molière seems to say life is everything. The notion of “action” is discussed and it is shown that there is a moral of action and entrepreneurship in the plays at the same time as the limits of individual action and will are painfully exposed. It is argued that the tragic element of the plays comes from the fact that the opponents to the comedies' happy end are so important in Molière and that their own failing projects often surpass what is humanly possible. The project of the miser is fundamentally to escape from death and to escape from the debt he has to pay for having received the gift of life. In this perspective the main conclusion of the study is that Molière's work teaches us that recognition of death is necessary for the ful- fillment of life and that this universal problem gives a lot of its significant meaning to a play like L'Avare.

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