|The current Rare Books Exhibition features material
drawn from our substantial holdings of French literature. We are
particularly strong in 18th century books and we see on display works by
Beaumarchais, Voltaire and Diderot, as well as some of the volumes of
plates and text of the French Encyclopédie published during the
1750s and 1760s.
As well as this we have many earlier and later works. Racine,
Corneille, and Molière are strongly represented of course, as are many
of the lesser lights such as Rotrou. We also have on display collections
of farces and plays performed by wandering troupes.
The twentieth century is represented by such dramatists as Gamas and
Sartre, with a first edition of Beckett's En Attendant Godot,
later translated into English as Waiting for Godot.
Also represented are some examples from our collection of travel
accounts. These include many description of visits to the theatre by
visiting English men and women such as Arthur Young, Hester Piozzi, Mrs.
Trollope and George Augustus Sala.
Monash University has a long association with French drama. In
particular the late Denis Davison when he was a lecturer in the English
Department arranged for the translation and performance of several
French plays. Perhaps the most interesting is the 1792 political satire,
Les émigrés aux terres Australes, by Citizen Gamas, the first
play set in Australia.
The Alliance Française has allowed us to borrow various
artefacts from their long history in Melbourne including photographs of
scenes from French plays staged here early this century.