Dom Juan cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons



Dom Juan


Dom Juan or The Feast with the Statue (French: Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre [dɔ̃ ʒɥɑ̃ u lə fɛstɛ̃ də pjɛʁ] or simply Le Festin de pierre) is a French play, a comedy in five acts, written by Molière, and based on the legend of Don Juan. The title of Molière's play is also commonly expressed as Don Juan, a spelling that began in the seventeenth century. Molière's characters Dom Juan and Sganarelle are the French counterparts to the Spanish Don Juan and Catalinón, characters who are also found in Mozart's Italian opera Don Giovanni as Don Giovanni and Leporello. Dom Juan is the last part in Molière's hypocrisy trilogy, which also includes The School for Wives and Tartuffe. It was first performed on 15 February 1665 in the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, with Molière playing the role of Sganarelle.The play was originally written in prose, and was withdrawn after only 15 performances after attacks by Molière's critics, who believed that he was offending religion and the king by eulogizing a libertine. The play was a costly failure. Sganarelle, Dom Juan's valet, is the only character who speaks up for religion, but his particular brand of superstitious Catholicism is used more as a comic device than as a foil to his master's free-thinking. As a result, Molière was ordered to delete a certain number of scenes and lines which, according to his censors, made a mockery of their faith. The play was published in a heavily censored version for the first time in 1682. It was part of an eight-volume edition, edited by La Grange and Vivot, that contained almost all of Molière's plays. The parts of Dom Juan that offended the censors were pasted over with strips of paper glued into almost all of the copies. This version was in prose, instead of the also censored version by Thomas Corneille (brother of Pierre Corneille) which Corneille had versified. In addition to changing the style in which the play was written, Corneille had also changed certain aspects of the character of Dom Juan as well as the overall message; Dom Juan's philandering was enhanced and his story was pronounced to be more of a cautionary tale of what happened to those who weren't religious. Nearly a century and a half later, in 1813, a full and restored text was published in France. And then in 1847 the play was added to the repertoire of the Comédie-Française. In the twentieth century the play was performed often and has garnered great critical attention and admiration. An uncensored version appeared in Amsterdam in 1683.Molière drew his inspiration from the main character of a work by Tirso de Molina called El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra. However, the characters from the two plays differ in several aspects. Molière's Dom Juan clearly states that he is an atheist, but the Don Juan of Tirso de Molina's original play is a Catholic who believes that he can repent of his evil deeds many years later before he dies. However, his death comes sooner than expected and he finds that his attempts to repent and confess his sins are ineffective. In both plays the main character is condemned to Hell.
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original title: Dom Juan ou le Festin de Pierre
language: French
date of publication: 1682
genre: comedy

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