Jean Racine

(2579 words)
  • Edward Forman (University of Bristol)

The French playwright Jean Racine is the most significant author of tragedies in the classical tradition. Orphaned as an infant, he was brought up by relatives under the influence of the austere Jansenist strand in contemporary Christianity. The bleakly pessimistic view of human nature portrayed in his plays has been associated with that upbringing, even though at a conscious level he was rejecting Jansenist influence by his involvement in court life and theatre. His education at the Jansenist convent of Port-Royal gave him a grounding in Greek as well as Latin literature, and the influence of Euripides, alongside that of Seneca which dominated previous French tragic drama, may help to explain the element of cruelty and cynicism about …

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Citation:
Forman, Edward. "Jean Racine". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 December 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3689, accessed 18 April 2014.]

Articles on Racine's works

  1. Bérénice
  2. Britannicus