Recommended

Category: literature

Sub category: play, drama, theatre

Title: Phèdre (alt: Phaedra)

Author: Jean Baptiste Racine

About: Phaedra, wife of Theseus, king of Athens, step-mother to Hippolytus. Seeded deep in Phaedra’s heart is a dark secret: an uncontrollable love, lust even, which she has for her step-son Hippolytus. When word arrives Athens that Theseus has died at the war front, Phaedra seizes the opportunity to feed her desire and confesses to Hippolytus her passion for him. Hippolytus spurns her. But that is least of Phaedra’s worries because word reaches Athens once again that Theseus is actually alive and making his way back home. And Hippolytus wishes to speak with his father, urgently.

Thoughts: written during the French renaissance, this is one of the most heart-rending, thought-provoking plays you will ever read. A true renaissance classic. Available for free in most online libraries (if you can’t find it in a bookshop). Readers may be unfamiliar with historical and cultural references so don’t be shy to research for clarity where necessary.

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