JEAN-BAPTISTE POQUELIN, known by his stage-name MOLIERE (baptized 15/01/1622 – 17/02/1673) was a French playwright and actor, who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western Literature. Among his best-known works are LE MISANTHROPE (The Misanthrope, L’ECOLE DES FEMMES (The School for Wives), TARTUFFE ou L’IMPOSTEUR (Tartuffe or The Hypocrite), L’AVERE (The Miser), LE MALADE IMAGINAIRE ( The Imaginary Invalid) and LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME (The Bourgeois Gentleman)
Born into a prosperous family, and having studied at the College de Clermont (now Lycee Louis-de-Grand), Moliere was well-suited to begin a life in the theatre. 13 years, as an itinerant actor, helped him polish his comic abilities, while he began writing, combining Commedia dell’arte elements with the more refined French Comedy.
Though he received adulation of the Court and Parisians, Moliere’s satires attracted criticism from moralists and the Roman Catholic Church. His hard work in so many theatrical capacities, began to take its toll on his health and, by 1667, he was forced to take a break — from the stage. In 1673, during a production of his final play —LE MALADE IMAGINAIRE (The Imaginary Invalid), Moliere, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, was seized by a coughing fit and a haemorrhage, while playing the HYPOCHONDRIAC –Argan. He finished the performance, but collapsed again and died a few hours later.
Under French Law, at the time, actors were not allowed to be buried in the SACRED GROUND of a CEMETERY. However, his widow —-Armande–asked the King, if her spouse could be granted a ‘normal’ funeral at night. The King agreed and Moliere’s body was buried in the part of the cemetery —-reserved for unbaptized infants. In 1792, his remains were brought to the museum of French monuments and, in 1817 transferred to PERE LACHAIS CEMETERY in Paris, close to those of LA FONTAINE.
His quotes run thus :
(1) It infuriates me to be wrong, when I know I’m right.
(2) I prefer a pleasant vice to an annoying virtue.
(3) I live on good soup, not on fine words.
(4) The trees that are slow to grow, bear the best fruit.
(5) One ought to look a good deal at oneself, before thinking of condemning others.
(6) Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error.
(7) A wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behaviour is Patience and Moderation.