The Misanthrope and Tartuffe by Molière
Vintage performs translated by means of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet into English verse. within the Misanthrope, society itself is indicted and the impurity of its critic's reasons is uncovered. In Tartuffe, the bigoted and prudish Orgon falls thoroughly lower than the ability of the wily Tartuffe. Introductions via Richard Wilbur.
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The heady odour was like the sandalwood of a girl's thighs. His eyes rolled in ecstasy; Nirvana was close. Finally, he turned round to confront her. She stood there, more naked and vulnerable than ever. He gasped as he beheld her smooth skin, inhaled the pungent scent of her body. She had changed her colour, just for him: she was a redhead now. He smiled and embraced her and carried her over to the table. Forcing her down onto the chopping board, he cut her head off with a single neat stroke. Then he sliced the rest of her body into thin strips.
Maybe he had forgotten his lines in the excitement, or perhaps he was simply waiting for us to finish before returning to his monologue. He fell silent, yes, but he kept grinning, a wide floating smile in the dusk, and this was his fatal error. It seemed an admission of guilt. In our minds now, he was this farcical superhero, this implausible mutant, and for an unknown reason he was opposed to us, radiating harm from his hub of power. The pause was brief. Invisible and nonexistent arms snaked out from the stage and violated us.
Why make a gesture of friendship to the man or woman you are already embracing? When the moon sinks down over the opposite horizon, and the sun spreads its orange nets once more, we end with a remote and beautiful chord. I sink exhausted back onto my bed and sleep the sleep of the satiated. I know that I will never be able to play another note on the amplified trombone. I will have to dismantle my instrument and create something new from the brassy tubes. All this applies in equal measure to my neighbour.