Listen to part of a lecture in a literature class.
So, um, in France Academy, which was created to uphold standards of literary taste, it was a very conservative organization.
It tried to keep things a certain way...uh...resist change, it dictated that French plays should neoclassical in form,
you know, have five acts, sophisticated language, etc.
But try as it might, it couldn’t stop change.
French drama was changing, though the transition from neoclassical drama to Romantic drama was itself pretty dramatic.
Let’s look at a play by Victor Hugo called the Hernani, or as the French would say, Hernani,
although Hugo was a truly brilliant writer of essays, poems, novels, and plays, uh, his play, Hernani, isn’t a great play in and of itself.
It’s got a really confusing, convoluted storyline.
Critics back then were unimpressed by it,
though it’s likely that their own feelings about how plays should be, neoclassical or romantic, affected their opinions about it.
But its premiere in Paris, in 1830, was anything but ordinary.
Hernani’s opening night was probably one of the most important literary events in 19th century France!