This year marks the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Molière, sometimes called France’s Shakespeare, born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in January 1622 in the center of Paris. France has recently been plagued by doubts and confusion about her identity and history, just as her English-speaking cousins have about their own: all the more reason to celebrate an enduring triumph of French culture who continues to entertain audiences. A book shop in Vincennes on the edge of Paris announced on its window that Molière is more relevant in 2022 than ever.

That may be publicity, but seeing a recent production of Monsieur de Pourceaugnac, a minor masterpiece of Molière’s from 1669, at Paris’s Comédie Saint-Michel, in which an eager doctor brandishes an oversized needle before his terrified victim, makes one see...


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