MOLIÈRE – We are celebrating its 400th anniversary: the comedian and playwright of genius Molière is in the spotlight this Saturday, January 15. Born today in 1622, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, whose real name is, is a pillar of French comedy and theater. For this special anniversary year, celebrations are planned throughout 2022, particularly in the high places that have marked his career, but above all in his “house” the Comédie-Française, born seven years after his death in the continuity of his troop.
This author is so emblematic that actor Francis Huster has been fighting for years to get him into the Pantheon. An idea recently taken up in the political sphere, in particular by the LR presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse who describes the 17th century playwright as “the greatest genius of French theater”. In February, the socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, did the same by having a wish voted on by the Council of Paris. But the Élysée has ruled out such a possibility, stressing that all the pantheonized figures “postdate the Enlightenment and the Revolution”.
A position taken up by the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot on LCI this Saturday. According to her, “the right approach is not to bring Molière into the Pantheon, it is to go to a theater to listen to him and bring him to life”, she explains to Darius Rochebin. “I prefer that we fight in a lively way”, she continues before declaiming Act 3, scene 2 of Tartuffe.
“Before you speak, take this handkerchief from me. Cover this breast, which I cannot see. By such objects the souls are hurt, And that brings guilty thoughts”, recites the minister before continuing the scene with the words of Dorine.
If it were necessary to pantheonize a personality of the “Ancien régime”, Roselyne Bachelot also confides that she would choose Montesquieu.
A political decision?
The justification of the government that the minister takes up is far from convincing the supporters of the pantheonization of the playwright:
Francis Huster recalls that there are no immutable criteria for entering the Pantheon and denounces an “insult” made to the author: “Molière dared to defend the values that have made France respected throughout the world. […] If the Pantheon is only made to retrace the glory of France from the Revolution, then it is better not to play Molière, Racine, Beaumarchais anymore”, according to the actor quoted by News.
An opinion shared in particular by Julien Aubert, LR deputy for Vaucluse.
Ditto for Éric Ciotti, who denounces an “absolute indignity” and wonders if this refusal of the government comes from the fact that the request was formulated by Valérie Pécresse. “Macron the president who wants to deconstruct the history of France refuses Molière’s entry into the Pantheon. Is Molière banned from the Panthéon because Valérie Pécresse proposed his entry or because he was born before the French Revolution?”, wonders the former rival of the president of the Ile-de-France region in the LR primary .
Near Release, the president’s “memory” adviser, Bruno Roger-Petit, explains that the “Panthéon is a secular temple, child of the republican homeland, itself engendered by the Enlightenment. It is for this reason that all the figures honored there postdate the Enlightenment and the Revolution. It is a legacy that must be weighed before breaking with this republican and patriotic history”.
See also on Then24: Josephine Baker at the Pantheon, “a certain idea of freedom” for Macron