Fortuna Goes to the Theater Lottery Comedies in Seventeenth-Century France Michael Call In his 1637 poem "Excuse à Ariste," Pierre Corneille describes the contrasting historical fortunes of authorship by alluding to a game of chance, stating that in the "âge doré" of the French Renaissance, literature had been "une Blanque à de bons bénéfices," that is, a lottery full of enticing monetary rewards (780). At present, Corneille laments, "[la Blanque] est épuisée," conveying his opinion that writing had become an unstructured, desperate competition among would-be authors. Corneille's choice of metaphor not only expresses the movement away from friendly and aleatory authorial success toward a contemporary agon but does so in terms that were historically specific: the blanque had been a prominent royal institution in the reign of François I but was banned in the period in which Corneille was writing. However, the decades that followed would see the French revival of both the actual lottery and Corneille's metaphorical money machine as gambling and theater (in their myriad forms) became the entertainment options of choice for all classes of Parisian society. In fact, several comedies collapsed the two, staging the lottery and the variety of individuals who participated in
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 17, 2015
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