Pierre de Marivaux

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Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (February 4, 1688 – February 12, 1763), commonly referred to as Marivaux, was a French novelist and dramatist.

He is considered one of the most important French playwrights of the 18th century, writing numerous comedies for the Comédie-Française and the Comédie-Italienne of Paris. His most important works are Le Triomphe de l'amour, Le Jeu de l'amour et du hasard and Les Fausses Confidences. He also published a number of essays and two important but unfinished novels, La Vie de Marianne and Le Paysan parvenu.



His father was a Norman financier whose real name was Carlet, but who assumed the surname of Chamblain, and then that of Marivaux. He brought up his family in Limoges and Riom, in the province of Auvergne, where he directed the mint.

Marivaux is said to have written his first play, the Père prudent et equitable, when he was only eighteen, but it was not published till 1712, when he was twenty-four. However, the young Marivaux concentrated more on writing novels than plays. In the three years from 1713 to 1715 he produced three novels--Effets surprenants de la sympathie; La Voiture embourbée, and a book which had three titles--Pharsamon, Les Folies romanesques, and Le Don Quichotte moderne. These books are very different from his later, more famous pieces: they are inspired by Spanish romances and the heroic novels of the preceding century, with a certain intermixture of the marvellous.

Then Marivaux's literary ardour took a new phase. He parodied Homer to serve the cause of Antoine Houdar de La Motte, (1672 - 1731) an ingenious paradoxer; Marivaux had already done something similar for François Fénelon, whose Telemachus he parodied and updated as Le Telemaque travesti (written in 1714 but not published until 1736). His friendship with Antoine Houdar de La Motte introduced him to the Mercure, the chief newspaper of France, and he started writing articles for it in 1717. His work was noted for its keen observation and literary skill. His work showed the first signs of "marivaudage," which now signifies the flirtatious bantering tone characteristic of Marivaux's dialogues.

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