The Sacred Dramas of Esther & Athalia: by RACINE, Jean…

written for Madame de Maintenon’s young ladies
RACINE, Jean (1639-1699).

The Sacred Dramas of Esther & Athalia: translated from the French of Racine: Edinburgh, John Moir for Manners and Miller, 1803.

First Edition of this Translation. 8vo, (125 x 214mm), pp. [vi], 154, [1] errata, with the half-title, in contemporary tree calf, spine simply ruled in gilt, red morocco label lettered in gilt, with the heraldic bookplate of Sir James Campbell of Stracathro.

An anonymous verse translation of two plays by Racine. The first is Racine’s final tragedy, Athalie, first performed in 1691 and considered one of his greatest achievements: Voltaire thought it the greatest triumph of the human mind while Flaubert, in Madame Bovary, ranked it as the masterpiece of the French stage. The second play translated here is the lesser-known Esther, 1689, a work in three acts written for the young ladies of Madame de Maintenon’s academy, the Maison Royale de Saint Louis. A note in the 1876 translation by Caroline Andrews reads: ‘As the translator has followed closely the original, she hopes to recommend the same to the attention of lady educators’.

With a dedication to the Duchess of Gordon and a brief address to the reader: ‘The Translator has often admired the sublimity of sentiment, and elegant simplicity that reign in the sacred dramas of Racine. He has reaped both pleasure and edification from the perusal of these pieces, so justly esteemed by those who have a relish for sacred poetry: Hence he has been induced to believe that a translation of them, imitating closely the simple manner and style of the originals, might afford a similar gratification to the well-disposed British reader’.

OCLC lists BL, NLS, Edinburgh University, Stanford, Chicago, Michigan and Princeton.

Keywords: English Literature
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