Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais is known as a literary figure only for his plays, which were the only fictional works he published during his lifetime. Although he also wrote poetry, some of which was published posthumously, none of it proved to be of enduring value. His early, unpublished works for the theater were in the form of short curtain raisers or sidewalk shows, which the French call parades, some of which have also been posthumously published. Beaumarchais also published mémoires, or legal arguments, to defend his own position in several notorious lawsuits in which he was involved, and wrote prefaces for all but one of his plays, which describe the theoretical basis of his dramaturgy and exemplify his work as a critic. A considerable amount of Beaumarchais’s correspondence has also been published, most of it merely of documentary value but some of it marked by a passion for ideas and a sparkling of style that elevate it to the status of literature.