Molière: The Complete Richard Wilbur Translations (boxed set)
Arriving in November
One of the foremost American poets of his generation, Richard Wilbur was also an accomplished translator of French and Russian literature. His acclaimed verse renderings of Molière’s plays—“among the finest translations of anyone by anyone that we possess” in the words of New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik—are still enchanting audiences around the world.
Library of America’s deluxe two-volume edition brings together for the first time all ten of Wilbur’s Molière translations, a project Wilbur always envisioned. It features Wilbur’s original introductions to the plays, a new foreword by Adam Gopnik on the miraculous convergence of Wilbur’s 20th-century American and Molière’s 17th-century French sensibilities, and a fascinating interview with Wilbur about translating Molière conducted in 2009 by Dana Gioia.
The first volume collects Molière’s early farces The Bungler, Lovers’ Quarrels, and Sganarelle, or The Imaginary Cuckold; the comedies The School for Husbands and The School for Wives, about the efforts of middle-aged men to control their young wives or fiancés, which delighted theatergoers in Molière’s seventeenth-century France and continue to do so today; and Don Juan, Molière’s retelling of the story of the legendary seducer, performed only briefly in the playwright’s lifetime before pious censure forced it to close.
The second volume gathers Molière’s The Misanthrope, the elusive masterpiece that is to comedy what Shakespeare’s Hamlet is to tragedy; the fantastic farce Amphitryon, in which Jupiter and Mercury commandeer the identities of two mortals; Tartuffe, Molière’s brilliant satire of religious hypocrisy and willful blindness; and The Learned Ladies, the drama of a bourgeois household turned upside down that was one of his most popular comedies and the last of his great plays in verse.
Anyone who has seen and enjoyed a performance of one of Molière’s plays will treasure this beautiful edition. English-language readers looking to encounter the great French playwright for the first time will find no better starting place than Wilbur’s luminous translations.
Richard Wilbur (1921–2017) was U.S. Poet Laureate in 1987–88 and the recipient of many prizes and awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, the National Book Award for Poetry, the PEN Translation Prize (for Molière: Four Comedies), a Drama Desk Award (for The Misanthrope), the Wallace Stevens Award, the Frost Medal, and two Bollingen Prizes—one for poetry and one for his verse translation of Tartuffe.
Printed on acid-free paper, this special set features a unique design with specifications differing from those of Library of America series titles, including notch binding, cotton cloth-covered cases, and a sturdy four-color slipcase.
Molière: The Complete Richard Wilbur Translations is published and kept in print with support from The Florence Gould Foundation.