I had to read this biography of the life of the French playwrite Molière for my Molière class this past semester. It was very interesting, but not really an actually biography. As my teacher put it, it's "la biographie mythologique" of Molière. As in, it highlights the main points in Molière's life, like his childhood and his time writing plays. But Mory also makes a ton of presumptions about the life of Molière. You can't read Molière as if it were a textbook, because it's not. The author puts thoughts and words into Molière's mouth and presumes that all of his plays are inspsired by events in Molière's life. I'm sure a lot of this is true, but because it's all presumption, you can't believe everything to read in it.
This book was an invaluable source for information on the time period. If you are interested in Louis XIV, "le roi soleil", this book has a ton of information about his court and about what Molière did for him. Mory assumes that Louis and Molière were pretty close because of Molière's position as "le tapissier du roi" and also because he had the official "troupe du roi", and I have to say I wouldn't be surprised if they were pretty close. Louis XIV did after all give Molière's troupe a theatre that they could have for ever and always after the death of their main actor and playwrite.
The relationships that Molière had with his friends, family, and lovers also play a big role in this biography. A lot of this information is pretty reliable because of first hand accounts from other members of Molière's troupe, but I'm sure of lot of this was also speculation on Mory's part. Mory was really good at capturing these people and their personalities, and I got really emotional towards the end when Madeleine (Molière's best friend and past lover, and also the co-founder of his troupe) died, and then again when Molière died exactly one year later.
What really made this book, and what I think drew my teacher to it and makes it a great book for all Molière scholars to read, is the invaluable information on Molière's plays. Mory discusses what was going on culturally and politically and in the court of Louis XIV when each play was written. He writes in detail about how well the plays were each received and about the costumes and stage decorations used for each one. If you are interested in 1700th century theatre or you are studying Molière, this book is perfect for you to read.
I read this book in French and I'm not sure if there is an English translation out yet. This seems to be the #1 book on the life of Molière even though a lot of it is speculation, so I wouldn't be surprised if a translation was available in the future. (LOL can I please be hired to do the translation?! I need a big girl job..)
Author: Christophe Mory
Date of Publication: 2007
Number of Pages: 374
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Source: Personal Copy