Where are the vrais dévots and are they véritables gens de bien? Eloquent slippage in the Tartuffe controversy
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The famous controversy provoked by Molière’s Tartuffe (1664–1669) is usually read in terms of vrais and faux dévots and thought to turn on the question of sincerity versus hypocrisy. Here the vrai-faux dichotomy is challenged and a third term introduced in the form of the véritable homme de bien of Molière’s Preface to the published edition of the play. In the slippage between a vrai dévot and a véritable homme de bien (considered by most critics to be synonymous), I argue, lies a value-judgment and the suggestion of an alternative, more secular worldview that persisted even in the 1669 version of the play. The scandal of Tartuffe thus lies less with the threat of religious hypocrisy and more with the possibility that true morality could be found outside the Church.
Prest , J T 2013 , ' Where are the vrais dévots and are they véritables gens de bien ? Eloquent slippage in the Tartuffe controversy ' Neophilologus , vol 97 , no. 2 , pp. 283-297 . DOI: 10.1007/s11061-012-9318-0
Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012. The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11061-012-9318-0