Racine 1639 - 1699 (60)

Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.


Jean Racine, Feadra

Racine (Jean Racine, 1639 - 1699) was a French playwright who created the most significant tragedies of the 17th century. Born on 12.22.1639, he was orphaned at an early age and was raised by his grandmother in the monastery of Port Royal de Champs near Paris. He learned Greek and Latin from the monks, he then studied for two years in college and in 1657 went to Paris to study law. He came there into contact with the literary circles and abandoned his studies for the sake of drama.

In three years he became famous as a poet, in 1660 he was awarded a cash prize for the song "The Nymph of the Seine," which he composed for the wedding of King Louis XIV. Since 1662 he was one of the poets who took royal allowance. His first efforts in the theater did not have much success until 1667 with the tragedy "Andromache". He then wrote a comedy inspired by Aristophanes’ Wasps and then the tragedies Britannicus (1669), Bérénice ( 1670), Bajazet (1672), Mithridate (1673), Iphigénie (1674) with which he was recognized as a deep and original reproducer of the ancient Greek spirit.

In 1673 Racine became a member of the French Academy and in 1676 released the first version of the complete works. The following year he wrote “Phaedra”, his most significant tragedy, based on Euripides' Hippolytus. After Phaedra he stopped the play writing and worked from 1677 as a historian of King Louis XIV. That same year, the notorious for his love affairs with many relations og his actress abandoned the bohemian life and married. He returned to playwriting several years later with two tragedies inspired by the Bible: He died on April 21, 1699.