Querelle du Cid

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The Querelle du Cid (February / March 1637 to December 1637) is a literary feud that broke out shortly after the publication of the tragic comedy " Le Cid " by Pierre Corneille .

Course of the Querelle du Cid


"Le Cid" was premiered between December 1636 and January 1637 in the Théâtre du Marais in Paris by the troupe of actors Troupe de Mondory ( Mondory , actually Guillaume Des Gilberts , was a famous actor) and achieved a triumphant success. The cast benefited enormously financially from the audience success, as they were the only one allowed to perform “Le Cid” (Corneille had sold the performing rights for this piece to the Troupe de Mondory ). After the unexpectedly great success of the play, however, she refused Corneille an adequate share of the additional income. The latter then had the text printed as a book, which meant that any acting company was now allowed to perform the play, as the written version was now freely accessible.

However , after reading it, some contemporary literary authorities (called doctes and savants , today one would say critics ) were not convinced of the creative quality and uniqueness of Corneille's drama and expressed their criticism, which became the occasion for the “Querelle du Cid”.

Chronological sequence

At the same time as the tragic comedy appeared in writing, Corneille published the poem “L'Excuse à Ariste” at the end of February 1637 , in which he showed himself haughty ( Je sais ce que je vaux ) and emphasized his special talent, which is the real origin of the Querelle. Jean Mairet , a contemporary tragedy writer, who was presumably jealous of Corneille's triumphant success, took the opportunity in March 1637 to curb Corneille's arrogance and accused him of “Le Cid” being a plagiarism of the Spanish comedy “Las mocedades del Cid ” (1618) by Guillén de Castro .

Thereupon Georges de Scudéry published on April 1, 1637 "Les Observations sur le Cid" , where he actively supported Mairet in allegations of plagiarism and also accused Corneille of the principles of "bienséance" (propriety) and of "vraisemblance" (probability) as well as the three To have disregarded units (of place, action and time). Corneille did not want to let go of what he believed to be unfounded allegations and rejected the allegations as unjustified in the “Lettre apologétique” . After this publication, Scudéry asked the Académie Française to act as "referee".

A member of the Académie Française, Jean Chapelain , complied with Scudéry's request and published on December 20, 1637 the text "Les sentiments de l'Académie Française touchant les observations faites sur la tragi-comédie du Cid" , in which he denied the plagiarism allegations, however Scudéry agreed that Corneille had violated the three units as well as the "bienséances" and "vraisemblance". He also said that Corneille owed his success as much to his talent as to chance. After some hesitation, Corneille decided not to answer, Richelieu ended the argument.

General information about the "Querelle du Cid"

Scudéry, Mairet, Chapelain and Richelieu were not the only ones who commented on the tragic comedy, as did Claveret , Boisrobert , Balzac and many other anonymous authors. Between January 1637 and December 1638, one year after the official end, 34 texts were written about "Le Cid" , which became more and more personal over time. With regard to the allegations, it can be stated that they are partly unjustified (in relation to the three units) and partly debatable.

On the history of the “Querelle” in France

The "Querelle du Cid" is not the only literary feud in French literary history: The first was the "Querelle du Roman de la Rose", sparked by Christine de Pizan in 1399 . The best known is the “ Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes ” from 1687. In 1664 a “querelle” flared up around Molière's piece of Tartuffe . 1713-14 there was the "Querelle d'Homère", which was triggered by an attack by Anne Dacier on Antoine Houdar de la Motte . In 1830 there was almost a "battle" over Victor Hugo's play Hernani , the bataille d'Hernani . All these feuds, led by numerous combatants in each case, took place in Paris and were only possible here. Because unlike z. In Germany, for example, French writers have been concentrated in the capital for centuries, where they form something like a critical mass for all kinds of intellectual chain reactions.