The Theatre of Illusion, translated
and with an introduction
by Richard Wilbur.
Harvest, 144 pages, $12
The poet and translator Richard Wilbur brings the same integrity and ingenuity to his newest translation, The Theatre of Illusion by Pierre Corneille, as to his earlier esteemed translations of Molière and Racine. As with his previous translations, Wilbur skillfully preserves the rhymed couplets of the original, deftly substituting English pentameters for the original alexandrines.
The play is the story of a runaway lord, Clindor, whose spirit is summoned by a magician to appease his father. Pridament watches as the son, fighting for the love of the princess Isabelle, is killed, only to be told that the vision is actually a play, and the actor is his son, alive and well. Rich in wit and enigma, the spirit of the play is reminiscent of Wilbur’s own verse,...