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Rare Books Exhibition

French Theatre

7 October 1998 - 26 February 1999

You may also read the text of the catalogue online.

Virtual Exhibition

Life in Paris : comprising the rambles, sprees, and amours, of Dick Wildfire, 
of Corinthian celebrity, and his bang-up companions, Squire Jenkins and Captain 
O'Shuffleton : with the whimsical adventures of the Halibut family, including 
sketches of a variety of other eccentric characters in the French metropolis / by David Carey
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.

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>> Exhibition catalogues are available, free of charge, from the Rare Books information desk

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