Towards a Cultural Philology
Phèdre and the Construction of ‘Racine’
Research Monographs in French Studies 4
Legenda: Oxford, 1999
In this book Amy Wygant reads Racine’s Phèdre (1677) through an analysis of its seventeenth-century cultural contexts and a consideration of its subsequent reception history. She explores the construction of Racinian language as ‘musical’, the poetics of the Racinian gaze, and Racine’s labyrinthine eros of memory and forgetting. Reference is made to Lully’s operas, the battle between the advocates of colour and the champions of drawing in the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and Le Nôtre’s centreless garden labyrinth at Versailles. These close textual and contextual studies relate the detail of the tragedy to the conceptual sweep of seventeenth-century absolutism. Wygant’s interdisciplinary study draws on art and music history, as well as on emblematics, the history of the formal garden and the arts of memory. Racine’s greatest threnody, the récit de Théramène, is shown as representative of expressions of loss which lie at the root of early modern literature.
Amy Wygant is a Lecturer in French at the University of Glasgow.