Pierre de Marivaux

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Pierre de Marivaux
Pierre de Marivaux.jpeg
Portrait of Marivaux by Louis-Michel van Loo
Born4 February 1688 (1688-02-04)
Paris, France
Died12 February 1763(1763-02-12) (aged 75)
Paris, France
Occupation Playwright
Nationality French
Period Enlightenment
Genre Romantic comedy

Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (4 February 1688 – 12 February 1763), commonly referred to as Marivaux, was a French novelist and dramatist.

A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to get their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.


He is considered one of the most important French playwrights of the 18th century, writing numerous comedies for the Comédie-Française and the Comédie-Italienne of Paris. His most important works are Le Triomphe de l'amour , Le Jeu de l'amour et du hasard and Les Fausses Confidences . He also published a number of essays and two important but unfinished novels, La Vie de Marianne and Le Paysan parvenu . [1]

A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays.

Comedy genre of dramatic works intended to be humorous

In a modern sense, comedy refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups or societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.

Comédie-Française State theatre in Paris, France

The Comédie-Française or Théâtre-Français is one of the few state theatres in France. Founded in 1680, it is considered the oldest active theatre company in the world. Established as a French state-controlled entity in 1995, it is the only state theatre in France to have its own permanent troupe of actors. The company's primary venue is the Salle Richelieu, which is a part of the Palais-Royal complex and located at 2 rue de Richelieu on the Place André-Malraux in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.


His father was a Norman financier whose name from birth was Carlet, but who assumed the surname of Chamblain, and then that of Marivaux. He brought up his family in Limoges and Riom, in the province of Auvergne, where he directed the mint. [1]

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is the far northwest one of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy. The neighboring regions are Hauts-de-France and Ile-de-France on the east, Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire on the south, and Brittany on the southwest.

Limoges Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Limoges is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and was the administrative capital of the former Limousin region in west-central France.

Riom Subprefecture and commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Riom is a commune town in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.

Marivaux is said to have written his first play, the Père prudent et équitable, when he was only eighteen, but it was not published till 1712, when he was twenty-four. However, the young Marivaux concentrated more on writing novels than plays. In the three years from 1713 to 1715 he produced three novels – Effets surprenants de la sympathie; La Voiture embourbée, and a book which had three titles – Pharsamon, Les Folies romanesques, and Le Don Quichotte moderne. These books are very different from his later, more famous pieces: they are inspired by Spanish romances and the heroic novels of the preceding century, with a certain mixture of the marvelous. [1]

Then Marivaux's literary ardour took a new phase. He parodied Homer to serve the cause of Antoine Houdar de La Motte, (1672–1731) an ingenious paradoxer; Marivaux had already done something similar for François Fénelon, whose Telemachus he parodied and updated as Le Telemaque travesti (written in 1714 but not published until 1736). His friendship with Antoine Houdar de La Motte introduced him to the Mercure, the chief newspaper of France, and he started writing articles for it in 1717. His work was noted for its keen observation and literary skill. His work showed the first signs of "marivaudage," which now signifies the flirtatious bantering tone characteristic of Marivaux's dialogues. [1] In 1742 he became acquainted with the then unknown Jean-Jacques Rousseau helping him revise a play Narcissus though it wasn't produced till long afterwards. [2]

Homer name ascribed by the ancient Greeks to the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey

Homer is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. The Iliad is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek kingdoms. It focuses on a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles lasting a few weeks during the last year of the war. The Odyssey focuses on the ten-year journey home of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, after the fall of Troy. Many accounts of Homer's life circulated in classical antiquity, the most widespread being that he was a blind bard from Ionia, a region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey. Modern scholars consider these accounts legendary.

François Fénelon Catholic bishop

François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, more commonly known as François Fénelon, was a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer. He today is remembered mostly as the author of The Adventures of Telemachus, first published in 1699.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Genevan philosopher, writer and composer

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought.

Marivaux is reputed to have been a witty conversationalist, with a somewhat contradictory personality. He was extremely good-natured, but fond of saying very severe things, unhesitating in his acceptance of favours (he drew a regular annuity from Claude Adrien Helvétius), but exceedingly touchy if he thought himself in any way slighted. At the same time, he was a great cultivator of sensibility and unsparingly criticized the rising philosophes. Perhaps for this reason, Voltaire became his enemy and often disparaged him. Marivaux' friends included Helvétius, Claudine Guérin de Tencin, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and even Madame de Pompadour (who allegedly provided him with a pension). Marivaux had one daughter, who became a nun; the duke of Orleans, the regent's successor, furnished her with her dowry. [1]

Claude Adrien Helvétius French philosopher

Claude Adrien Helvétius was a French philosopher, freemason and littérateur.

Voltaire French writer, historian, and philosopher

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plumeVoltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

Claudine Guérin de Tencin French writer and salonist

Claudine Alexandrine Guérin de Tencin, Baroness of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, was a French salonist and author. She was the mother of Jean le Rond d'Alembert, philosophe and contributor to the Encyclopédie, though she left him on the steps of the Saint-Jean-le-Rond de Paris church a few days after his birth.

Literary career

The early 1720s were very important for Marivaux; he wrote a comedy (now mostly lost) called L'Amour et la vérité, another comedy, Arlequin poli par l'amour , and an unsuccessful tragedy, Annibal (printed 1737). In about 1721, he married a Mlle Martin, but she died shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, he lost all of his inheritance money when he invested it in the Mississippi scheme. His pen now became almost his sole resource. [1]

Marivaux had a connection with both the fashionable theatres: Annibal had played at the Comédie Française and Arlequin poli at the Comédie Italienne. He also endeavoured to start a weekly newspaper, the Spectateur Français, to which he was the sole contributor. But his irregular work ethic killed the paper after less than two years. Thus, for nearly twenty years the theatre, especially the Comédie Italienne, was Marivaux's chief support. His plays were well received by the actors of the Comédie Française, but were rarely successful there. [1]

Marivaux wrote between 30 and 40 plays, the best of which are La Surprise de l'amour (1722), the Triomphe de Plutus (1728), Jeu de l'amour et du hasard (1730) (The Game of Love and Chance), Les Fausses confidences (1737), all produced at the Italian theatre, and Le Legs (1736), produced at the French. At intervals, he returned to journalism: a periodical publication called L'Indigent philosophe appeared in 1727, and another called Le Cabinet du philosophe in 1734. But the same causes which had proved fatal to the Spectateur prevented these later efforts from succeeding. [1]

In 1731 Marivaux published the first two parts of his great novel, Marianne. The eleven parts appeared at intervals over the next eleven years, but the novel was never finished. In 1735 another novel, Le Paysan parvenu, was begun, but this also was left unfinished. Marivaux was elected a member of the Académie française in 1742. For the next twenty years, he contributed occasionally to the Mercure, wrote plays and reflections (which were seldom of much worth), and so forth. He died on 12 February 1763, aged seventy-five. [1]


The so-called Marivaudage is the main point of importance about Marivaux's literary work, though the best of the comedies have great merits, and Marianne is an extremely important step in the development of the French novel. That, and Le Paysan parvenu, have some connection to the work of Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding. In general, Marivaux's subject matter is the so-called "metaphysic of love-making." As Claude Prosper Jolyot Crébillon said, Marivaux's characters not only tell each other and the reader everything they have thought, but everything that they would like to persuade themselves that they have thought. [1]

This style derives mainly from Fontenelle and the Précieuses, though there are traces of it even in Jean de La Bruyère. It abuses metaphor somewhat, and delights to turn off a metaphor in an unexpected and bizarre fashion. Sometimes a familiar phrase is used where dignified language would be expected; sometimes the reverse. Crébillon also described Marivaux's style as an introduction of words to each other, which have never made acquaintance and which think that they will not get on together (this phrase is itself rather Marivaux-esque). This kind of writing, of course, recurs at several periods of literature, especially at the end of the 19th century. This fantastic embroidery of language has a certain charm, and suits the somewhat unreal gallantry and sensibility which it describes and exhibits. Marivaux possessed, moreover, both thought and observation, besides considerable command of pathos. [1]



Journals and essays


Unfinished novels


Triumph of Love , a 1997 musical stage adaptation of Marivaux's play The Triumph of Love had a brief Broadway run.

Film and Television

Marivaux's play The Triumph of Love (1732) was filmed in English in 2001 as The Triumph of Love , starring Mira Sorvino, Ben Kingsley, and Fiona Shaw. [3] It is, so far, the only one of Marivaux's plays ever to be filmed in English. The film received modestly favourable reviews, but was not a box office success.

In the French film L'Esquive (2003), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, Arab-French adolescents in a Paris suburb prepare and perform Marivaux's play Le Jeu de l'amour et du hasard .

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<i>La Vie de Marianne</i> book by Pierre Carlet de Marivaux

La Vie de Marianne is an unfinished novel by Pierre de Marivaux and illustrated by Jakob van der Schley.

<i>The Game of Love and Chance</i> play by Marivaux

The Game of Love and Chance is a three-act romantic comedy by French playwright Marivaux. The Game of Love and Chance was first performed 23 January 1730 by the Comédie Italienne. In this play, a young woman is visited by her betrothed, whom she does not know. To get a better idea of the type of person he is, she trades places with her servant and disguises herself. However, unbeknownst to her, her fiancé has the same idea and trades places with his valet. The "game" pits the two false servants against the two false masters, and in the end, the couples fall in love with their appropriate counterpart.

<i>La Surprise de lamour</i> 1723 play written by Pierre de Marivaux

La Surprise de l'amour is a three-act romantic comedy by French playwright Marivaux. Its title is usually translated into English as The Surprise of Love. La Surprise de l'amour was first performed 3 May 1722 by the Comédie Italienne at the Hotel de Bourgogne in Paris. In this play, a man and a woman who've sworn off love are tricked by their servants into falling in love with each other.

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Le Paysan parvenu is an unfinished novel by Pierre de Marivaux. Five parts by Marivaux appeared from May 1734 to April 1735, and an ending was added by another writer. The work is supposedly the original for subsequent tales of poor boys of a heroic nature who have "made good". The change in style is noticeable from Marivaux’s literary style to the more racy conclusion written by the other author.

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L'Épreuve is a one-act play by French playwright Pierre de Marivaux presented for the first time on November 19, 1740.

<i>La Fausse Suivante</i> book

La Fausse Suivante, or Le Fourbe Puni is a play by French playwright Pierre de Marivaux written in 1724, and produced for the first time by the Comédie-Italienne on July 8, 1724 at the theatre of the Hôtel de Bourgogne.

<i>Les Fausses Confidences</i> 1738 play written by Pierre de Marivaux

Les Fausses Confidences is a three-act comedy in prose by the French playwright Pierre de Carlet de Chamberlain de Marivaux. It was first performed on the 16 March 1737 by the actors of the Comédie Italienne at the Hotel de Bourgogne, Paris.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marivaux, Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.}
  2. Leo Damrosch (2007). Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius. Mariner Books.
  3. The Triumph of Love (2001) on IMDb
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