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Synopsis

JEAN BAPTISTE RACINE, the younger contemporary of Corneille, and his rival for supremacy in French classical tragedy, was born at Ferte-Milon, December 21, 1639. He was educated at the College of Beauvais, at the great Jansenist school at Port Royal, and at the College d'Harcourt. He attracted notice by an ode written for the marriage of Louis XIV in 1660, and made his first really great dramatic success with his “Andromaque. ” His tragic masterpieces include “Britannicus, ” “Berenice, ” “Bajazet, ” “Mithridate, ” “Iphigenie, ” and “Phaedre, ” all written between 1669 and 1677. Then for some years he gave up dramatic composition, disgusted by the intrigues of enemies who sought to injure his career by exalting above him an unworthy rival. In 1689 he resumed his work under the persuasion of Mme. de Maintenon, and produced “Esther” and “Athalie, ” the latter ranking among his finest productions, although it did not receive public recognition until some time after his death in 1699. Besides his tragedies, Racine wrote one comedy, “Les Plaideurs, ” four hymns of great beauty, and a history of Port Royal

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