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The School for Wives and The Learned Ladies, by Moliere: Two comedies in an acclaimed translation. Paperback – November 15, 1991
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Original Language: French
About the Author
RICHARD WILBUR, one of America’s most beloved poets, has served as poet laureate of the United States. He has received the National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Arts Club medal of honor for literature, and a number of translation prizes, including two Bollingen Prizes and two awards from PEN.
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Top Customer Reviews
The School for Wives centers around a man, Arnolfe, who is afraid of being cuckolded. He has raised a girl from when she was very young to know nothing but praying and sewing, so that when she marries she will not have the wherewithal to cheat on him. Of course, a young man in the neighborhood happens to see her while Arnolfe is out. In a series of misunderstandings, the young man ends up enlisting Arnolfe's aid in wooing the girl. Arnolfe's every attempt to thwart their union is in turn thwarted by her. She may have been raised ignorant, but she is not stupid.
The Learned Ladies is, in present context, somewhat misogynist. Much of the comedy revolves around the matriarch of a family who rules her household "like a man." The plot again involves young lovers separated by a willful parent. The daughter of the matriarch wants to wed a young man who is equally in love with her but her mother wants her to wed the stuck-up court poet Trissotin. This is really just a pretext for a lot of the deflation of pomposity at which Moliere excels. For those who like the old battle-of-the-sexes screwball comedies, here is a likely progenitor.
The most famous of Moliere's plays are The Misanthrope, The Hypocondriac and Tartuffe. If you've already read them and like them, then I have no reservation recommending this delightful double-header.