The French dramatist Jean Racine (1639-1699) had a lifelong, productive relationship with Ancient Greek literature: two of his best-known plays, Phèdre and Iphigénie, were inspired by the tragedies of Euripides. The annotated Greek texts Racine left in his library provide evidence of his private reading of the literature that lay behind the inspiration. In this scholarly study of Racine's annotations of Euripides' tragedies, Phillippo examines the creative processes linking these two writers. She concentrates on the extensive and largely unexplored evidence supplied by non-verbal aspects of the annotations, such as the marking of lines and passages by underlining and the use of brackets, which are published here for the first time. Although more enigmatic than Racine's limited verbal comments, they provide a fascinating insight into Racine's understanding and appreciation of Greek originals whose influence on French theatre was profound.
Susanna Phillippo is a Lecturer in Classics at the University of Newcastle.
‘Phillippo ... is to be congratulated on finding interest in such apparently unpromising markings and on giving them voice. Indeed, her book is a triumph of sober scholarship and critical imagination.’ — Michael Hawcroft, French Studies LVIII.3, 2004, 408-9
‘Source criticism seems to have caught a second wind lately ... Silent Witness represents an enlightened form of this methodological approach, giving an inside view of Racine's creative process that allows us to look over his shoulder in the atelier d'artiste.’ — Ronald W. Tobin, L'Esprit Créateur Vol. XLIV, n. 2, Summer 2004, 97-8
‘This book has been painstakingly researched and set out in a manner to facilitate the reader's understanding of the detailed argument based on close reading of the French and Greek texts.’ — Rosemary Arnoux, New Zealand Journal of French Studies 25/1, 2004, 61-2
‘It is true that we will never know why Racine marked certain passages, and that we can also argue for the influence of text that is unmarked. The study of sources will necessarily often belong to the domain of informed speculation. But if we accept that literary criticism deals more in persuasion than in certainties, we will be more sympathetic to this well-judged attempt to look at an old question in what is an original, clear-headed, and stimulating way.’ — John Campbell, Modern Language Review 100.2, April 2005, 500-01 (full text online)
‘For anyone interested in Euripides and his influence, the research and the argument here presented offer much to tantalize.’ — Clara Shaw Hardy, The Classical Bulletin 81.1, 2005, 98-100
‘Phillippo's conclusions remain firmly within the limits of what can reasonably be deduced from the evidence and the complete listing in an appendix of Racine's non-verbal annotations allow the sceptic to check against the original Euripidean text. This book has added an important element to the study of Racine's work.’ — Mark Bannister, International Journal of the Classical Tradition Fall 2004, 312-13
Phillippo, Susanna, Silent Witness: Racine's Non-Verbal Annotations of Euripides, Research Monographs in French Studies, 14 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2003)
First footnote reference:35 Susanna Phillippo, Silent Witness: Racine's Non-Verbal Annotations of Euripides, Research Monographs in French Studies, 14 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2003), p. 21.
Subsequent footnote reference:37 Phillippo, p. 47.