Saturday, August 02, 2008
In the Picard-Barthes Racine controversy, Chavenet’s position was often overlooked. Chavenet maintained that neither parties in the controversy were correct. What motivated Racine, and what structured the plays, was the imperative of the versification he had chosen. The rhyming Alexandrine couplets imposed their own structures on the scenes and speeches, their own necessities on the playwright. The search for a rhyme and the correct syllable pattern was always uppermost in the poet’s mind, always the primary concern as he sat at his desk composing, creating a kind of anxiety, a tension between the story the playwright was trying to tell and the means he was using to tell it. The means always won out, as the verse never falters. Hence the great boredom of Racine, as opposed to Shakespeare, who never let the requirements of his chosen verse form (iambic pentameter) dictate to him.