Who was Moliere? He is known everywhere as one of the world's greatest playwrights. But who was he? Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the son of a prosperous tapestry maker. His mother died when he was a boy. Growing up in the teeming streets of 17th century Paris, Jean Baptiste received a good Jesuit education and was fascinated by the street fairs and traveling carnivals that flourished in spite of the religious repression and hypocrisy of those cruel times. As a young man he joined the theatrical Bejart family to establish the Illustre-Theatre, which soon went bankrupt. The troupe reformed, found patronage, and went on the road for thirteen years, performing all over France. Poquelin developed his stagecraft adapting Commedia dell Arte plots to please brutalized peasants and cynical townspeople. He also married Madeline Bejart, the widowed daughter of the troupe's founder. Later he entered into a love affair with Mme Bejart's daughter, to the dismay of all. The troupe eventually returned to Paris and, on October 24, 1658, greatly impressed the 20-year old King Louis XIV, later to be called the Sun King. Moliere's life became bound up with the magnificent court at Versailles, and with its intrigues. He wrote, staged and acted in the plays now famous all over the world. He fought with his enemies and his friends, enjoyed success followed by failure, organized court festivities and defended himself against increasingly fanatic religious authorities. Above all, his theater was taken from life as his life was theatrical.- Written by John Christopher <firstname.lastname@example.org> revised by John Chapot
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