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Phèdre: A Play

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,506 Ratings  ·  196 Reviews
A lean, high-tension version of a classic tragedy.

The myth of Phaedra is one of the most powerful in all of classical mythology. As dramatized by the French playwright Jean Racine (1639-99), the dying Queen's obsessive love for her stepson, Hippolytus, and the scrupulously upright Hippolytus' love for the forbidden beauty Aricia has come to be known as one of the great sto
Paperback, 96 pages
Published February 28th 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1676)
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Renato Magalhães Rocha
Phèdre is hydrogen.
Phèdre is helium.
Phèdre is a star.

I say this not only because she's the main character in this glorious play, and even less because she's been played by some of the greatest actresses in the world (Sarah Bernhardt, Helen Mirren, Fernanda Montenegro - yes, even Brazil adapted this famous play!), but because she's constantly in a thermonuclear fusion between reason and emotion that ultimately leads to self-destruction in such a powerful blast that affects all the other bodies th

When is one guilty of something, when one commits the reprehensible deed, and only one knows it, or when it is made known to others?

Phèdre thinks that the latter case is a great deal worse, worse even than death:

je meurs pour ne point faire un aveu si funeste
je n’en mourrai plus, j’en mourrai plus coupable

And so probably did Racine, because in his Phèdre, the action is activated by Phèdre’s avowal of her guilt which she makes three times. These three long soliloquies are amongst the most fam
Nov 17, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's see: thwarted love, betrayal, implied incest, heinous lies, father-son love triangle with wife/stepmother, and a whole lot of death at the end. Um, yeah, that's the recipe for a pretty awesome story. Phaedra, married to Theseus, has always nurtured a secret love for his son, Hippolytus. When she receives news that Theseus is dead, she finally confesses her love to Hippolytus, who is in love with Aricia and is disgusted by his step-mother's advances. But, hey, guess what? Theseus isn't dead ...more

a tragic play , Explores the Depths of the Human Soul ...
fascinating in its complexity.....

Phèdre the young and second wife of the king Theseus, fall in love with his son Hippolytus,her obsession disrupts her,she was losing her mind, sees Hippolytus everywhere. her offerings and prayers to change destination was in vain.....
she had Hippolytus exiled,and dismissed him from her presence.... However, she soon discovered that she could not remove his love from her heart. It remained. So she wished
Jul 13, 2016 Carmo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf

Uma das várias versões desta obra inspirada na mitologia. Apesar de algumas discrepâncias entre os diversos autores no andamento do drama, todos eles comungam no fundamental: um amor incestuoso, uma mulher rejeitada, vingança e morte. Dramático e intenso. Gostaria de ver isto no teatro.
Oct 17, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, poetry, french
Greek families! Histrionics, rash reaction instead of considered response, inability to control emotion. Tragedy.


See the complete review here:

Bonus GR only bit: So if Goodreads was ever a family, it's now clear that it was one that escaped from a Greek Tragedy. It's fairly obvious that all the things in the first sentence of this review can be applied to the GR family - the only ques
There's an old Communist-era joke, quoted in the movie The Lives of Others, about the Party Leader's conversation with the Sun. (The punchline is "Fuck off, I'm in the West now"). In Racine's play, Phèdre also has a conversation with the Sun. When I looked at the footnote, I discovered that they were in fact close relatives.

Well... as everyone knows these days, being born into a rich, powerful family isn't exactly a guarantee that you're going to have a happy life. Generally, you marry someone y
David Sarkies
Apr 28, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lover's of Tragedy
Recommended to David by: The Book of Lost Books
Shelves: tragedy
A pretty brutal love triangle
12 August 2013

This is apparently Racine's last play before he gave up the theatre scene to return to a religious life within the Jansenist sect. For those who don't know what a Jansenist is (and that would probably include most of us) then picture a god who is mean, nasty, and smacks you over the head with a baseball bat when you step out of line, and you have the god that the Jansenists worship. Why would anybody worship a god like that I don't know, but it probabl
Huda Aweys
في الأسطورة الإغريقية كانت الضحية الأساسية لهذه المأساة (هيبوليت) ابن الزوج ، إلا أن (جان راسين) أراد في مسرحيته التي أعدها من الأسطورة أن يجعل من (فيدرا) شريكة لهيبوليت في استدرار تعاطفنا .. فجعل منها ضحية ايضا .. ضحية الفضيلة .. او حب النفس و خشية السقوط ! ..، و قد نجح في ذلك الى حد ما
فمع أنها سعت للموت أكثر من مرة خلال المسرحية (عصمة لشرفها) .. الى أن ماتت بالفعل .. الا أن ذلك لم يغفر لها تماما تآمرها على برئ .. لم يغفر لها أيضا ضعفها و حمقها و غيرتها كذلك !
ركز ايضا راسين في مسرحيته ع
Feb 16, 2016 Laurence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this play, even though I think it lacks originality (which I know is one of caracteristics of this genre at this time).
Huda Yahya
Jan 14, 2015 Huda Yahya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 24, 2013 Sesana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology, play
I love mythology, especially Greek mythology. And Phaedra's story is a particularly juicy myth. Married to heroic Theseus, who features in many stories himself, Phaedra has fallen in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. (Remind anyone else of A Little Night Music? Not for long.) Now word has come that Theseus is dead, and Phaedra confesses her love to Hippolytus. Problem: Hippolytus is already in love, with Aricia, a captive of his father. Further problem: Theseus isn't dead at all.

Like all the re
Aug 11, 2013 Yani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teatro, universidad
La pasión me llevó a querer expulsar/ al enemigo aquel al que yo idolatraba;/ la envidia fingí de una injusta madrastra (I.3). Con estas líneas dichas por Fedra se puede resumir el hilo conductor de la obra. Gira alrededor de pasiones inmanejables, malentendidos y acusaciones falsas que no anuncian un final feliz. Fedra es la esposa de Teseo, el rey de Atenas, y en su ausencia tiene que lidiar con el amor que siente por Hipólito (hijo de Teseo y una amazona), un hombre con el que ya había teni ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4/5 - Probably my favourite book from my university reading list so far!

1. 17th century French theatre has always interested me and this didn't disappoint. Despite being written in the 1600s, to this day it is still an enjoyable, gripping story that's relatively easy to follow.
2. Phèdre was such an intriguing, multifaceted character; I never knew what was going to happen with her and what she was going to do next. She originates from Greek mythology and although I don’t know loads abou
Joao Vaz
Dec 22, 2012 Joao Vaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Que excesso!, só podia ser este o livro favorito do pequeno Marcel!

Fedra, a mulher do rei Teseu, acalorada por desejos incestuosos leva à perdição de todos à sua volta. Estava de tal forma dominada de culpa que produz algumas das tiradas mais exageradas que li: DRÃÃMA! (atenção, nada se chega a consumar!, mas o aborrecido é que na antiguidade os deuses puniam igualmente o pecado em pensamento)

Enfim: Racine, you're da bomb!
Jan 25, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On my second trip through Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu I've been trying to slow down and check out some of the works mentioned by Proust throughout, focusing mainly on the paintings referenced in the work, but also on a few of the texts, for instance, this one, Jean Racine's Phèdre.

Phèdre is based on a Greek myth and has been explored by many ancient Greeks, including Euripides, who wrote the play Hippolytus (the name of Phaedra's stepson and love interest), Virgil, who include
Nov 25, 2014 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
I was a bit nervous after reading Rawling's Translator's Introduction because 1) she is not a professional translator but an actor who translated this as a kind of hobby project, and 2) her introduction suggests a kind of slavish devotion to the genius of Racine. Both of these throw up red flags for me.

But this is a really beautifully translated play. Although the French is printed on the facing page I don't know any French, so I am not evaluating how accurate a translation it is. I mean that th
I loved this. Racine makes one big change from Euripides: he blames Phedre's false accusation mostly (though not wholly) on her nurse, instead of on her. Coincidentally, that's the one thing that really stuck out for me in the original: I found Phedre's final accusation jarring, unearned and unexplained. So...nice job, Racine!

He also throws a love interest for Hippolytus in, though, in order to make him a little less...y'know, above it all. This was less successful. I think he'd have achieved th
Sep 02, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
It's Yukio Mishima's favourite play! A mad old queen, a macho young man, plotting and confusion ... and then death comes to them both. But enough about Mishima (boom, boom), Racine's play is a spin on the classic(s). I saw a very cool Croatian production of "Hippolytus" quite soon after the Yugoslav war. Artemis was fully bandaged and moved about in a very curious manner. Hippolytus and chums spent the whole time worshipping her, in tiny loincloths.

"Phaedra: Thanks be to Heav'n, my hands are fre
As a rule, I do not love reading plays. I find the overwrought emotions to be embarrassing. I feel the same way when I'm watching plays, to be honest. I'm forever tamping down my desire to stand up and shout, "Everyone just calm the eff down." When I'm sitting alone and reading, though, I don't have those governors of social norms and peer pressure and nothing ruins a quiet morning reading time like screaming at your book.

This play was no exception. I enjoyed it well enough but wish it had been
Mar 14, 2015 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: théâtre
Tous les adolescents tombent d'abord amoureux d'Antigone, parce que c'est la révolte adolescente. C'est quand tu tombes amoureux de Phèdre que tu sais que tu as grandi. J'avais quatorze ans, et je connaissais par cœur la tirade "J'aime. Ne crois pas qu'au moment que je t'aime, Innocente à mes yeux..."
C'était le tout début d'un vrai amour de théâtre.
Read this play (translated by Robert Henderson) as it appeared in an old Modern Library book called Six Plays by Corneille and Racine. Will I have time to read it again?
شعرت بفرحة طاغية عندما وجدت على غير اتفاق نسخة من مسرحية فدرة أمامي، كأنها أحد الاحلام الصغيرة التي تتحقق، وسبب ذلك أن عزيز أباظة كتب في مقدمة آخر مسرحياته الشعرية ظهورًا (مسرحية زهرة) وهي من أحب مسرحياته إلىَّ، كتب يقول:

سميتها (زهرة) وهو اسم على وزن (فدرة
وفدرة هذه كما تعلم بطلة مسرحية شعرية كتبها الشاعر المسرحي الأغريقي (يوريبيدس عن أصل مصري كما قيل (يشير الأستاذ عزيز أباظة فيما أعتقد إلى أن قصة فدرة مستوحاة من الفكرة الأساسية لما حدث بين سيدنا يوسف وبين زليخة امرأة العزيز) ثم عالج ا
Feb 04, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
PHAEDRA. (1677). Jean Racine. ****.
It is necessary to keep the cast of characters in front of you when reading this play, unless, of course, you are already a classical scholar. In the beginning, it is easy to get confused. Here it is:
Theseus Son of Aegeus and King of Athens
Phaedra Wife of Theseus and daughter of Minos and Pasiphae
Hippolytus Son of Theseus and Antiope, Queen of the Amazons
Aricia Princess of the blood royal of Athens
Oenone Nurse of Phaedra
Theramenes Tutor of Hippolytus
Ismene Fri
Maybe it was the translator Robert Lowell (Jean Racine's 'Phedre' was originally in French) and his style and language or my particular version that have contributed to my adoration of this play. However, although these factors do contribute substantially, it was Racine himself who showed his stature and dignity as a prominent French playwright.

I chose the words 'stature' and 'dignity' for a reason by the way. For Racine, although his basis is essentially Greek mythology and tragedy, had baptize
Maan Kawas
Nov 03, 2013 Maan Kawas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful tragedy by the great French playwright Jean Racine! It is based on Euripides’ tragedy “Hippolytus”, but at the same time it shows many differences. Unlike Euripides’ play, Phedre here is depicted more as an ordinary human being, who is not totally good and not totally bad. Although she was doomed by fate to fall in an incestuous love his her own stepson, Hippolytus, but originally Phedre is a virtuous woman by nature, who suffered and resisted her unacceptable feelings and urges towa ...more
Pocas obras deben existir como la 'Fedra' de Racine que sean una defensa tan radical de la virtud (afortunadamente), pero también pocas obras deben existir como la 'Fedra' de Racine que hablen con tanta intensidad del dolor por un amor que se sabe que nunca será correspondido (desgraciadamente). Fedra está enamorada de Hipólito, el hijo de su marido, que encima resulta que no es nada más que un bravucón misógino y arrogante. Ella agoniza literalmente de amor (como pasa en toda tragedia que se pr ...more
Jul 14, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-lit, drama
I was really impressed by this play. It's a page-turner. I didn't want to put it down. Hughes' translation has a delightful terse lyricism. I rarely felt like I was reading a translation of a French play recreating an ancient Greek atmosphere and style. The deviations from the plot helped me appreciate the play for what it is, rather than continually comparing it with Euripides' "Hippolytus." The biggest changes are Aricia (Hippolytus' lover), the order/progression of events, diminished role of ...more
Emilie Andersen
I just think I'm a bit bored of reading the same myth as Seneca and Euripides have already given a version of; the only new thing was that stupid girl that Hippolytos fell in love with. It was not bad, I've just already read the same story just by other authors :)
Jun 20, 2016 Helga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry, play, french
Phèdre is based on the Greek mythology of Phaedra. The subject of the tragedy is taken from Euripides.
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  • Polyeucte
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  • The Infernal Machine and Other Plays
  • Huis clos, suivi de Les mouches
  • Antigone
  • Lorenzaccio
  • La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu
  • Hippolytus
  • Le Mariage de Figaro
  • The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro): Vocal Score
  • Les Bonnes
Jean Baptiste Racine was a French dramatist, one of the "big three" of 17th century France (along with Molière and Corneille), and one of the most important literary figures in the Western tradition. Racine was primarily a tragedian, though he did write one comedy.
More about Jean Racine...

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“Présente je vous fuis; absente, je vous trouve;
Dans le fond des forêts votre image me suit”
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