I’ve been thinking of starting a weekly feature, and Hannah’s antics inspired me to initiate “Good Books Monday.” Each Monday, I will highlight one book from my collection, quote an interesting passage or two, and expound upon it if I feel like it. If nothing else, it will remind me of the good books I have not read in a while.
The volume of Moliere that Hannah selected includes the plays “The Misanthrope” and “Tartuffe.” The Misanthrope is a social commentary, but also a commentary on social commentators, which makes for some good parts. One of my favorite passages speaks to would-be authors particularly:
Sir, these are delicate matters; we all desire
To be told once that we’ve the true poetic fire.
But once, to one whose name I shall not mention,
I said, regarding some verse of his invention,
That gentlemen should rigorously control
That itch to write which often afflicts the soul;
That one should curb the heady inclination
To publicize one’s little avocation;
And that in showing off one’s works of art
One often plays a very clownish part.
-…some dialog with Oronte transpires….-
You’re under no necessity to compose;
Why you should wish to publish, heaven knows.
There’s no excuse for printing tedious rot
Unless one writes for bread, as you do not.
Resist temptation, then, I beg of you;
Conceal your pastimes from the public view;
And don’t give up, on any provocation,
Your present high and courtly reputation,
To purchase at a greedy printer’s shop
The name of silly author and scribbling fop.
As I have quoted at length from The Misanthrope, I will not go into Tartuffe. Suffice it to say, it is seemingly about hypocrisy, but isn’t really.