Racine

Racine

[ruh-seen, ra- or, Fr., ra-seen for 1; ruh-seen, rey- for 2]
Racine, Jean, 1639-99, French dramatist. Racine is the prime exemplar of French classicism. The nobility of his Alexandrine verse, the simplicity of his diction, the psychological realism of his characters, and the skill of his dramatic construction contribute to the continued popularity of his plays. Educated at Port-Royal, he broke with his Jansenist masters over his love for the theater. His first dramatic attempts, La Thébaïde (1664) and Alexandre le Grand (1665), were imitations of Corneille. With Andromaque (1667), a tragedy after Euripides, Racine supplanted Corneille as France's leading tragic dramatist. Corneille's friends, including Racine's former friend Molière, tried to ruin the young playwright, but the backing of Louis XIV and later of Boileau saved him. Racine's next play, Les Plaideurs (1668), wittily satirizes the law courts. His subsequent plays are milestones in French literature—Britannicus (1669); Bérénice (1670); Bajazet (1672); Mithridate (1673); Iphigénie en Aulide (1674); Phèdre (1677). After a concerted attack on Phèdre, Racine, in a revulsion against his irregular life, gave up the theater. In the same year he married and was appointed official historiographer by Louis XIV. Mme de Maintenon persuaded him to write Esther (1689) and Athalie (1691) for performance at Saint-Cyr. These differ from the earlier plays in their biblical subjects and use of a chorus and in the length of Esther, which has three acts instead of five. There are many English translations of Racine, among them those of John Masefield, Lacy Lockert, Kenneth Muir, and Robert Lowell.

See biography by G. Brereton (rev. ed. 1974); studies by R. Barthes (tr. 1964), P. France (1966), M. Turnell (1972), P. J. Yarrow (1978), and L. Goldman (1981).

Racine, industrial city (1990 pop. 84,298), seat of Racine co., SE Wis., on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Root River; inc. 1848. It is a port of entry, and its manufactures include farm machinery, automobile parts, stitching machines, tools, corrugated containers, waxes and polishes, and electrical equipment. The first permanent settlement was established in 1834. Improvement of the harbor (c.1844) and the coming of the railroad (1855) brought industrial growth. Three buildings in Racine were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the reliefs at the county courthouse were designed by Carl Milles. The city has art and local heritage museums, and a zoo and other parks along the lakefront.

(baptized Dec. 22, 1639, La Ferté-Milon, France—died April 21, 1699, Paris) French playwright. Orphaned at an early age, he was educated in a Jansenist convent, and he chose drama in defiance of his upbringing. His first play was produced by Molière in 1664. Their friendship ended when Racine took his next play, Alexander the Great (1665), to a competing theatre and seduced Molière's mistress and leading actress, Thérèse du Parc. She starred in Racine's successful Andromaque (1667), which explored his theme of the tragic folly of passionate love. His only comedy, The Litigants (1668), was followed by his great tragedies Britannicus (1669), Bérénice (1670), and Bajazet (1672). After writing his masterpiece, Phèdre (1677), a tragedy drawn from Greek mythology, he retired to become official historian to Louis XIV. His final plays, Esther (1689) and Athalie (1691), were commissioned by the king's wife, Mme. de Maintenon.

Learn more about Racine, Jean (-Baptiste) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(baptized Dec. 22, 1639, La Ferté-Milon, France—died April 21, 1699, Paris) French playwright. Orphaned at an early age, he was educated in a Jansenist convent, and he chose drama in defiance of his upbringing. His first play was produced by Molière in 1664. Their friendship ended when Racine took his next play, Alexander the Great (1665), to a competing theatre and seduced Molière's mistress and leading actress, Thérèse du Parc. She starred in Racine's successful Andromaque (1667), which explored his theme of the tragic folly of passionate love. His only comedy, The Litigants (1668), was followed by his great tragedies Britannicus (1669), Bérénice (1670), and Bajazet (1672). After writing his masterpiece, Phèdre (1677), a tragedy drawn from Greek mythology, he retired to become official historian to Louis XIV. His final plays, Esther (1689) and Athalie (1691), were commissioned by the king's wife, Mme. de Maintenon.

Learn more about Racine, Jean (-Baptiste) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Geography

Racine is the name of several communities in the United States of America:

Arts and music

  • Jean Racine, 17th century French dramatist
  • Racine (band), the band fronted by Wendy James
  • Musique Racine, the French spelling of a Haïtian musical movement, also known in Haïtian Kréyòl as mizik rasin, or "vodou roots music"
  • Racine is the name of the first song by Limbeck in their debut album This Chapter is Called Titles
  • Bruno Racine (born 1951), French administrator and writer

Medicine

  • Racine stages, commonly used to score seizure severity in animal models of epilepsy

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