“Genius punchliner. » This is how Astrid Chauvineau describes Molière in her mind-blowing edition of Bourgeois gentleman. In the margins of the key scenes, illustrated with a lot of humor, a cat dispenses, in an irreverent tone, comments to explain the situations to young readers. Then, an accompanying booklet reviews Molière’s “band of friends” (Corneille, the first in the class, Lully the fayot…), deciphers the insults of the time (“big carriage horse”, “donkey bâté) or slays “fake news” (no, Molière is neither dead on stage nor in a green suit!).
→ LARGE FORMAT. The father, the mother, the servant… 400 years later, Molière’s family hasn’t aged a bit
This book, whose modernity irresistibly seduces children, is not the only one to try to bring them closer to a work that could seem difficult. In this year of celebration, publishers compete in imagination to reach a wide audience. The collections My little docs (2) and Novels-doc artists (3) trace the romantic destiny of Molière. The first title is even aimed at children from 4 years old, far from the classic target of college and high school students.
“If Molière is no longer a frozen figure in the library but a friend with whom we can have fun and play jokes, young people will go more easily to his plays”, rejoices Pierre Senges, who has designed with Arnaud Marzorati a delightful book-disc and a show around the childhood of Molière (4). Rhythmed by a children’s choir, the story immerses us in the artistic effervescence of 17th century Paris, especially around the Pont Neuf where the young Jean-Baptiste Poquelin went with his grandfather to see the mimes, the fire-eaters and bear trainers. The tribute mixes the spirit of farce with refined references.
To make Molière familiar, to allow children to reclaim his work, the undertaking is daring and the bridges erected by children’s books are often successful, even if the youngest will have to wait years to taste the richness of the original texts. Deceits of Scapin Where The Miser, objects of many film adaptations, are undoubtedly the most accessible. And nothing replaces discovering the pieces on stage.
(1) Illustrations by Bérangère Delaporte, Flammarion Jeunesse and La Comédie française, 96 p., €13.90, from 8 years old.
(2) Moliereby Stéphanie Ledu and Rodolphe Duprey, Milan, 30 p., €7.90.
(3) The incredible destiny of Molière, long live comedy!by Bénédicte Solle-Bazaille and Sandrine Martin, Bayard, 48 p., €6.50, from 8 years old.
(4) Molière his majesty the actorby Pierre Senges and Serge Bloch, The Joy of Reading, 78 p., €24.90, from 6 years old.