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Phedre: Dual Language Edition (Penguin Classics) (French Edition) (French) Paperback – March 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Dual Language edition (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0140445919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445916
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French

About the Author

Jean Racine was born in 1639 at La Ferté Milon, sixty miles east of Paris. Orphaned at an early age, he was educated at the Little Schools of Port Royal and the pro-Jansenist College of Beauvais. He soon reacted against his austere mentors and by 1660 he had begun to write for the theater and had been introduced to the court of Louis XIV. In 1677, when he had ten plays to his credit and was high in favor with both the court and the public, he abandoned the theatre, which was regarded as far from respectable by the Church, and joined the Establishment as Royal Historiographer. It was only after a silence of twelve years that he wrote his last two plays (both on religious subjects), Esther and Athaliah. He died in 1699.
Margaret Rawlings, in private life Lady Barlow, is a distinguished English actress who is also a French scholar. She was born in Japan and educated at Oxford High School for Girls and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Miss Rawlings has been a professional actress since 1927 and has played many Shakespearean and Shavian heroines in addition to innumerable other important roles. In 1957 Campbell Allen produced in London a theatre-in-the-round version of Phèdre, and Miss Rawlings’ performance in the title role was widely acclaimed by the critics.
Margaret Rawlings, in private life Lady Barlow, is a distinguished English actress who is also a French scholar. She was born in Japan and educated at Oxford High School for Girls and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Miss Rawlings has been a professional actress since 1927 and has played many Shakespearean and Shavian heroines in addition to innumerable other important roles. In 1957 Campbell Allen produced in London a theatre-in-the-round version of Phèdre, and Miss Rawlings’ performance in the title role was widely acclaimed by the critics.

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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amaranth on April 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Phedre" is a timeless classic. Based on Euripides' Hippolytus (Focus Classical Library),Phaedra falls into forbidden love with her stepson, Hippolytus. In the Greek original, Hippolytus is a repressed prude, punished by Aphrodite for his hubris. In Jean Racine's French neo-classical version, Phaedra is the center of the tragedy, pining for Hippolytus while he pines for Aricia. There is deus ex machina in the Greek original, but even in Racine's version, the characters live in a god-haunted world. Theseus calls on Neptune to destroy his son; Phaedra lives in fear and trembling before Venus.

Margaret Rawlings, herself an actress, undertook the task of translating Racine's alexandrines into contemporary verse. Sometimes it works, and other times her translation sounds grandiose with its "thee" and "thou." It's helpful that there's French on one side and English on the other. Rawlings comes up with the novel interpretation that Phaedra and Hippolytus should be close in age, with Theseus as the older man. In recent performances of "Phedre", however, the leading ladies are middle-aged (such as Dame Helen Mirren, Lady Diana Rigg) It's usually Phaedra as cougar, with Hippolytus as the younger man (he is a hunter).

"Phedre" is finally receiving the recognition it deserves with performances at the American Conservatory Theater and movie theater simulcasts from the National Theater in London. "Phedre" is a masterpiece of human passion.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
This year I am using Jean Racine's "Phaedra" as the one non-classical text in my Classical Greek and Roman Mythology Class (yes, I know, "Classical" makes "Greek and Roman" redundant, but it was not my title). In Greek mythology, Phaedra was the half-sister of the Minotaur who was married to Theseus after the hero abandoned her sister Ariadne (albeit, according to some versions of what happened in Crete). Phaedra fell in love with her step-son Hippolytus, who refused her advances. Humiliated, she falsely accused him of having raped her.
My students read "Phaedra" after Euripides's "Hippolytus" as part of an analogy criticism assignment, in which they compare/contrast the two versions, which are decidedly different, to say the least. In the "original" Greek version Hippolytus is a follower of Artemis, and the jealous Aphrodite causes his stepmother to fall in love with him. Phaedra accuses Hippolytus of rape and then hangs herself; Theseus banished his son who is killed before Artemis arrives to tell the truth. In Racine's version Hippolytus is a famous hater of women who falls in love with Aricia, a princess of the blood line of Athens. When false word comes that Theseus is dead, Phaedra moves to put her own son on the throne. In the end the same characters end up dead, but the motivations and other key elements are different.
While I personally would not go so far as to try and argue how Racine's neo-classical version represents the France of 1677, I have found that comparing and contrasting the two versions compels students to think about the choices each dramatist has made. Both the similarities and the differences between "Hippolytus" and "Phaedra" are significant enough to facilitate this effort. Note: Other dramatic versions of this myth include Seneca's play "Phaedra," "Fedra" by Gabriele D'Annunzio, "Thesee" by Andrea Gide, and "The Cretan Woman" by Robinson Jeffers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jean Racine, along with Molière and Corneille are the three most famous "classical" French playwrights, all having lived in the 17th century. Phèdra is the first of Racine's works that I have read, and it is his most famous. The play is largely based on Euripide's Hippolyte (French Edition). This particular Penguin classic edition has many virtues, and these include the translation and introduction by Margaret Rawlings, a British actress. In the introduction written in 1960, she explains that her version was developed particularly with the sounds of the English words in mind, as they would be pronounced on stage. Furthermore, to add even a further complexity she notes the differences in that proverbial common language depending on one's side of the ocean: "It is hard not to get a laugh on this, because of the American intonation present in it." So she dropped the ambiguity conveyed by the word "just." And Rawlings does seem to fine-tune her translation that precisely, a considerable achievement concerning a story which comes from the 5th century B.C. via the 17th century to the present, and from Greek to French and then to English... with the latter being the Queen's own.

And it is quite a story involving the eternal themes of power, love, lust, fidelity and the cruelty of fate mixed in with the reality-TV show theme of incest, and the complexities of serial families. As Rawlings points out, the dominant characters in most Shakespearean plays are male; Racine updates the Greeks, and put the emphasis on the female. Phèdra is the Queen, but second wife of Thessus, who is king of Athens and Trozene.
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Penguin here provides the reader with an useful original language text with a thoughtful and poetic English translation. Great for those somewhat comfortable with the French language or those who wish to embark headlong into a study of the language, since there are no footnotes or aids to translate the work. My copy came in splendid condition and despite my carrying it to around all the time over the course of the semester has held up durably. I recommend this to everyone who wants to read the play at all, both because the Rawlings translation is an excellent one and because the French is useful to look at for the curious or the academically interested.
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