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Richelieu's Desmarets and the Century of Louis XIV$
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Hugh Gaston Hall

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151579.001.0001

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Les Visionnaires

Les Visionnaires

(p.154) 7 Les Visionnaires
Richelieu's Desmarets and the Century of Louis XIV

Hugh Gaston Hall

Oxford University Press

First performed by the Marais troupe, Jean Desmarets's second comedy, Les Visionnaires is his most successful work. The plot is simple. Alcidon, a complaisant father, has promised a daughter in marriage to each of four obsessional male suitors; but he has only three daughters, each with her own obsession. These seven characters and the imprudent father are the visionnaires: Artabaze, the braggart Capitan, played by Bellemore; the ‘poète extravagant’ Amidor, played by Montdory; the ‘amoureux en idée’ Filidan; the ‘riche imaginaire’ Phalante, who describes in detail the new château de Richelieu; Melisse ‘amoureuse d'Alexandre le Grand’; Hesperie ‘qui croit que chacun l'aime’; and Sestiane, ‘amoureuse de la comédie’. All are contrasted with Alcidon's relative Lysandre, a raisonneur. The norms of obstacle comedy, tragicomedy, and pastoral are reversed, as the multiple hasty matches must be unmade in the denouement. No marriage takes place, because each of the visionnaires is too self-absorbed to make a match.

Keywords:   Jean Desmarets, comedy, Les Visionnaires, Alcidon, Artabaze, Lysandre, tragicomedy, pastoral

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