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Rewriting the subjects of tragedies was so common throughout the seventeenth century as to be a defining characteristic of the period. While originality was the rule in comedy, in tragedy it was disdained. The arrangement of the action, the power and beauty of the language. the originality of the articulation of the more or less ancient plot: these were the badges of the tragic virtuoso. Rewriting was both a compliment to the predecessor and an act of appropriation, a theft not so much of the subject as of authority over the subject. The tragic playwright rewrote with a presumption of superiority, and often a desire to rival and best the predecessor.

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Studies in Early Modern France