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Institute Touraine in Tours, south of Paris on the Loire River

 

The Payoff of Our French Experience
 

In our studies, we found that in reading stories which treated seriously people’s emotions, we could increase our own sensitivity to other cultures as well. Of course the classic French stories which have survived all these years are universal. We studied them as well as the most modern works. Our discovery of the French literature of the 17th and 18th centuries was the real payoff. This period was truly the golden age of French literature (ended by the Revolution). What’s incredible is that this literature was written with such clarity, simplicity, and beauty that it’s easily understandable today. The remarkable French have kept the flame of the past burning by preserving this classic language of such writers as Molière and Marivaux. It’s the most beautiful of all languages.

Surprising to us, there is a repertory of hundreds of these classic plays that are still being presented in Paris regularly. The amazing Comédie Française still has regular performances in the original theatre building commissioned by Louis XIV, using the original style costumes and, of course, the original language.

The phenomenon of classical French theatre can be put in perspective when we remember that France at that time was the richest and had the largest population of all western countries. In 1789 its population of 27 million was far larger than either Russia’s, Germany’s, or Britain’s. In fact, it was the third largest country in the world, after China and India. This meant that there was a far larger theatre-going audience than in, say, England or Italy. It is no surprise that there exists a huge treasure of literature from this richest of countries in its golden era.

 
 

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