RACINE Louis (1692-1763)

Lot 187
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RACINE Louis (1692-1763)
9 L.A.S. "LRacine", Paris 1751-1752, to Don Agustin de MONTIANO Y LUYANDO, director of the Academy of History, member of the Royal Academy, Madrid; 65 pages in-4, one address with red wax stamp (broken), bound in one volume small in-4 marbled basane (old binding). Superb literary correspondence from the son of Jean Racine, a true testimony of the Republic of Letters in the Age of Enlightenment. [Agustin de MONTIANO Y LUYANDO (1697-1764), Spanish historian, critic and playwright, member of the Real Academia Española, was the founder and director of the Real Academia de la Historia]. In the course of the letters, of which we can only give a glimpse, the respective works of the two correspondents are mentioned, in particular Louis Racine's book on the tragedies of his father, and the Spanish translations of tragedies such as Britannicus or Athalie, but also the History of Port-Royal by Jean RACINE (published posthumously), the relationship between authors and European scholars, Racine giving his judgment on POPE, MILTON, VoLtaire, or on Spanish authors such as the Count de reBoLLedo and GARCILASO DE LA VEGA, or on La condamine about his trip to Ecuador. Louis Racine is delighted that good French writers are known to his correspondent: "you are quite right to distinguish our century from LOUIS XIV, it is our century from Augustus, and it is to be feared that he will not come back for us [...] it is not the spirit that we lack, on the contrary we want to have too much of it, we are looking for other paths, and there is only one good one". He sympathizes with the lack of popular success of Montiano's pieces, recognizing that ears must get used to new measures of the verses, and defending rhyme, which in his opinion is a necessary ornament. He would like to read the Spanish translation of Cinna as well as those of Athalia and Britannicus, and would be very flattered to see his Poem of Religion translated into Spanish, after having been translated into Italian and German. He sends his works to Montiano, from whom he also receives works, and he returns several times to the question of rhymes and the characteristics of each language, not conceiving that epic and lyrical poetry can be sustained without rhyme, unlike dramatic poetry, which is an "imitation of conversation" and whose versification can be freer. He is touched by Montiano's appreciation of the History of Port-Royal, "written in the taste of Salluste. From whatever party one is (Molinist or Jansenist, unhappy quarrel among us) one cannot help but, when one has taste, admire this writing as a model of historical style. What an art to string together the facts, and what an air of truth in telling them! What gentleness for the very enemies of Port-Royal!"... On the subject of the work of the Spanish Academy, he raises a linguistic question about the F which has changed into an H. It would be curious to read a Spanish translation of MILTON's work, as the French translation did not seem to him to be at all accurate: "our translator does not render the strength of the original, and often he adds things of his imagination". There are, according to him, in Milton "very great beauties and very great extravagances", even if the "rough and wild" English language does not seem to him to be made for poetry. "You know that Charles V said that it was in Spanish that one should speak to God. Milton's poem in Spanish or even English prose is far more beautiful than in English." He would very much like to receive a Madrid edition of Don Quixote, which is referred to as a "masterpiece of printing". On May 7, 1752, he sent his friend his Remarques sur les tragédie de Jean Racine (Remarks on the Tragedies of Jean Racine) in which he announced the Spanish translations of Britannicus and Athalie, asking him not to be surprised that "I raise the Francois theatre high above the theatres of our neighbours. I am not afraid to make a mistake when I despise English and Italian theatre". He admits that he does not know Spanish theatre well enough to talk about it, before returning to the contempt of English and Italian dramatic poets towards the French, quoting pope who "although full of hope and taste, believes his language to be the only one in Europe capable of rendering Homer's harmony". He thanks Montiano for sending a medal from the collection of Father Rothelin, for his information on the Academy of Sciences of Madrid; he would be very interested in reading the reports of the trip made by Spanish scholars to Peru and to compare them with that of M. de LA CONDAMINE which has just been published (Journal historique du voyage à l'Équateur).
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