Le Cid

Le Cid

A Translation in Rhymed Couplets

Book - 1987
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Uniform Title: Cid. English
Publisher: Newark : University of Delaware Press, c1987.
ISBN: 9780874132946
0874132940
Branch Call Number: 842.4
Characteristics: 207 p. ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Cheng, Vincent John 1951-

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dennismmiller
May 12, 2018

Corneille's masterpiece tells the tale of how the Cid became the Cid. Deeply in love, Rodrigue and Chimene hope to be wed. These hopes are threatened when Chimene's father insults Rodrigue's father, placing the young man on the horns of a dilemma - avenge the insult by challenging his beloved's father, or dishonor his family and himself.

It pits my honor against my love; to obey
A father, I must throw my love away.

Then, too, to live in shame would be to prove himself unworthy of her love.

My duty is also to Chimene: this path
Of vengeance would incur her hate and wrath.
But to refrain would merit her disdain.

The seeming choice is really no choice at all, but his victory places Chimene in an analagous position, in which she must seek vengeance on the man she loves.

Although Rodrigue is very dear to me
And though he owns my heart, yet in my head
I know who I am, and that my father's dead.

Indeed, the tragedy of Chimene's position is more profound than that of Rodrigue, as she must pursue a vendetta, not against a relative of her beloved, but against the beloved himself.

Though this fine love dispels my wrath, I'll try
My best to avenge my father; yet, though I
Obey such a cruel duty's rigorousness,
My one wish is to be quite powerless.

Although these lines are Chimene's, either of the lovers could have spoken them. Both wish to be powerless, to be denied agency and therefore responsibility, but their culture denies them this escape into slavery.

Abiding by the rules of French neo-classical drama, the play moves all the physical action offstage - the results of the story's multiple battles and duels are reported to the audience rather than observed. What remains onstage are the emotional struggles of the characters as they attempt to satisfy the demands of honor and love within the narrow formal limits of their society. Meanwhile, Corneille's brilliant use of form is powerful evidence that such limitations are an advantage, not a handicap, to a true artist.

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