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Pierre Corneille

Pierre Corneille (June 6, 1606 - 1684) was one of the three great dramatists produced by France during the 17th century, along with Moliere and Racine.

Corneille was born at Rouen, and studied law. He then practiced law for 21 years, meanwhile writing 20 plays. An amazing feat according to most.

He moved to Paris in 1629, with the beginnings of a literary career, and soon became successful as a writer of sparkling comedies and plays written to order on behalf of Cardinal Richelieu. He only began to realise his true potential with the tragedy Medée, in 1635, following it up with his masterpiece, Le Cid, in 1636. Corneille was more versatile than Moliere and Racine, but often considered less brilliant than either. He tended to concentrate on classical themes, and was sometimes "copied" by Racine, to the latter's advantage. Though he did not write in the classic unities. Those being Time, Place, and Action as described by a misreading of Aristotle's opinion on ancient Greek theater. He did, however, enjoy a brief collaboration with Moliere. Between 1653 and 1659, he retired from the theatre altogether, to work on translation. Between 1640 and 1662, he lived mostly at Rouen, but thereafter in Paris.

His writting on behalf of and quitting his position for Cardinal Richelieu caused Richelieu to attempt to exact revenge. This attack was partly successful in his attack on Corneille's "Le Cid" which suceeded in driving Corneille from writting for three years. But when he did return he wrote some of his best pieces; the tragedies Horace, Cinna, Polyeucte and the comedy Le Menteur.

He died in 1684, having produced his last play ten years earlier.