The Misanthrope and Tartuffe

ISBN: 0156605171
ISBN 13: 9780156605175
By: Molière Richard Wilbur

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About this book

Two classic plays translated by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet into English verse. In The Misanthrope society itself is indicted and the impurity of its critic's motives is exposed. In Tartuffe, the bigoted and prudish Orgon falls completely under the power of the wily Tartuffe. Introductions by Richard Wilbur.

Reader's Thoughts


What's funny is I read these again because I didn't remember anything about them from high school. And when I read them, I really, really enjoyed them! And now I couldn't tell you the first thing about them! I feel like at some point, someone was hiding in a wardrobe. But doesn't that happen in every play?


I read this for a lit class , and maybe it was the translation, but I couldn't get into either of the plays. After Shakespeare and Sophocles, this guy seemed pretty lame.

Kristina Dixon

Moliere is just too funny. Love satire? I found some plays for you.


Surprisingly hilarious. Highly recommended.


Grad school.


Generally funny and clever and kind of Wilde-esque. I enjoyed the rhyming witticisms, and appreciate how hard this translator must have worked to make it seem so natural. (My favorite rhyme involved the word "tartuffefied")Kind of an aside: Tartuffe very strongly evoked Shakespeare to me. King Lear and Measure for Measure, specifically. (Because of the deluded old man trying to make his daughter fall in line with his absurdity and the lascivious upholder-of-morals attempting to rape a moral lady, respectively.)


Tartuffe, a pious fraud, ingratiates himself into the household a rich family and wreaks havoc.I believe that Richard Wilbur's verse translation of this play is by far the best. Years ago I played Marianne in a different translation (can't remember whose) and while it was fun, the dialogue just didn't flow in the same manner as Wilbur's. Most of the scenes are simply masterful in the way they portray Tartuffe's treachery and his dupe Orgon's failure to grasp his predicament.From a performer's standpoint, there are several delicious roles in the play, including three marvelous parts for women (there's also a part for an older woman who appears at the beginning and the end of the play which, although largely expository, is still pretty fun).Great read - highly recommended.


Best Tartuffe translation I've found


I did not read this particular edition but it was with these two plays in addition to The Sicilian or Love the Painter in one book.The MisanthropeThere's precious little satisfaction in the most glorious of reputations if one finds that one has to share it with the whole universe. 26I take men as they are, school myself to bear with what they do, and, in my opinion, my self-possession is no less philosophical than your intemperate spleen. 28Ay! Confound it! Because people are wrong, because there's always justification for being annoyed with them, because they are invariably as misguided in their praise as they are rash in their condemnation. 45The Sicilian or Love the PainterIf I were in love with anyone nothing would please me better than to see everyone love him. What better evidence could there be of the wisdom of one's choice? Ought we not to congratulate ourselves when the one whom we love is found lovable? 84Affection is very insecure when you seek to retain it by force. 85TartuffeIf the purpose of comedy be to chastise human weaknesses I see no reason why any class of people should be exempt. 101Folk whose own behaviour is most rididulous are always to the fore in slandering others. 113Just as, when honour puts men to the test, the truly brave are not those who make the biggest noise, so the truly pious, whose example we should ever follow, are not those who make the greatest show. 118Men, in the main, are strangely made. They can never strike the happy mean: the bounds of reason seem too narrow for them: they must needs overact whatever part they play and often ruin the noblest things because they will go to extremems and push them too far. 118There's a deal of difference between talking about a thing and doing it. 134The less one deserves the less one dares to hope... 150


witty, cleaver, funny, and charming.

Eric Crawford

Now this little book should be required reading in every college in the English-speaking world. Richard Wilbur and Molière saved my life as I transitioned from college to find something human and meaningful in the wider world. This comedy was my companion and guide to surviving as a mere semi-misanthrope rather than a full-on enemy of all-too-human humanity. A touchstone of my understanding of humanity, every bit as much as anything that Shakespeare guy came up with.The translation is miraculous: fresh, alive, and constantly delightful, as I imagine the original lines are in French.


There is the genius of Moliere himself, the great playwright and impresario who wrote in a complicate rhyming meter; and there is the english translations by Richard Wilbur in rhyming couplets. It is great gift to english-speaking theatre, and a superior way to present Moliere in english, for which we must honor Wilbur.There are prose translations that are fine, but for theatrical performance as well as reading pleasure, I commend Wilbur's work above all. Goodreads does not clearly distinguish the various translations, so check before buying. And enjoy!


This is a pair of really good translations of some amusing satirical plays from the French enlightenment. Tartuffe reads like an adult version of Doctor Seuss (at least to my mind). I liked both of the plays and both of the poetic translations. I'd even like to see either of these performed on stage.


Read Tartuffe on 4/16/2002Read The Misanthrope 4/28/2001


Molière never fails to make a funny and accurate critique of pretenders and liars, and this is not an exception in any of the cases. In the first work, it's the classic liar being discovered, but in the second is just more than that, it's the eternal fight of the honest one rounded by hypocrite society that will let him down even when it comes to what he calls the reason of his life, love itself.

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