Characters Discussed

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Dorante (doh-RAHNT), a young student who has recently arrived in Paris to get a social education. A brazen liar, he accommodates himself so well to his new situation that he captivates Clarice, Lucrèce, and their companions with accounts of his heroic exploits in war and his extraordinary amatory adventures in Paris. Enmeshed more and more in a web of lies, mistaken identities, and the like, he finally marries Lucrèce, whom he swears he has loved all along.


Géronte (zhay-ROHNT), Dorante’s father, who comes to Paris to arrange a marriage for his son. He is duped into believing that Dorante has been forced to marry a woman to save her honor. When he learns of the deception, he swears he will never again help his rogue of a son, but he docilely arranges for his marriage to Lucrèce nevertheless.


Lucrèce (lew-KREHS), a shy and virtuous girl who finally marries Dorante, who captivated her with his first lies on his arrival in Paris.


Clarice (klah-REES), a young girl betrothed to Alcippe, and a friend of Lucrèce.


Alcippe (ahl-SEEP), Dorante’s friend and the jealous lover of Clarice, whom he finally marries after they all become extricated from the web of Dorante’s lies.


Cliton (klee-TOH[N]), Dorante’s valet and mentor in Paris, who is hired because of his military and amatory connections.


Philiste (fee-LEEST), a friend of Dorante and Alcippe.


Sabine (sah-BEEN), Lucrèce’s maid and Dorante’s fellow liar.


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Abraham, Claude. Pierre Corneille. Boston: Twayne, 1972. Aimed at the English-speaking nonspecialist. All quotations are translated into English. A short biographical sketch helps explain the evolution of the playwright’s works. Bibliography suggests background material for the general reader.

Adam, Antoine. Grandeur and Illusion: French Literature and Society 1600-1715. Translated by Herbert Tint. New York: Basic Books, 1972. Shows the relationship between French society in the seventeenth century and its literature. Relates the history of the theater.

Brereton, Geoffrey. French Comic Drama: From the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century. New York: Methuen, 1977. Discusses the relationship of a comedy with its epoch. Spans three centuries but contains a meaningful history of the comic genre and has an explanation of The Liar.

Mallinson, G. J. The Comedies of Corneille: Experiments in the Comic. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1984. Gives a thorough analysis of Corneille’s comic plays in terms of composition and style. Shows how in The Liar Corneille shifts the emphasis from the original source, creating the neoclassical French version.

Rutherford, Malcolm. “Corneille and Comedy.” Encounter 74, no. 4 (May, 1990): 74-75. A short analysis that points out some interesting facts about theater companies. Discusses the names of the characters in The Liar.

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Critical Essays