Corneille, Tasso, and Modern Poetics

A. Donald Sellstrom


Literary Criticism / European / French; Literary Criticism / European / Italian;
166 pp. 6x9

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“There is a definite need for such a pioneering work. The author has handsomely acknowledged the previous contributions but his work goes futher, deeper, is broader in its approach and draws conclusions of a more general esthetic nature. . . . Sellstrom’s style is clear, concise, elegant, very much to the point. . . . All in all, this is a very important book, original, imaginative, and well thought-out.” —Marie-Odile Sweetser, professor of French, University of Illinois, Chicago

In Corneille, Tasso, and Modern Poetics, Donald Sellstrom draws on three well-established fields to prove his thesis that Corneille set out to emulate Tasso, although Corneille never acknowledges that fact and never even mentions the Italian poet’s name. The first two fields employed by Sellstrom are the Franco-Italian literary and cultural relations in the decades leading up to the Quarrel of the Cidi>, and the Christian or providential dimensions of Corneille’s theater. To these Sellstrom adds the Italian influence as it exerts itself on Corneille and links the playwright’s “modernism” with a particular Italian source, Tasso.

Emulation was for Corneille a powerfully integrative act: by studying that emulation, Dr. Sellstrom has in turn provided the occasion for bringing various aspects of previous knowledge about Corneille into new, sharper focus.

A. Donald Sellstrom is professor of French at the University of Texas, Austin.