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A study by two researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Ecole Nationale des Chartes has concluded thatMolière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), born in Paris in 1622, was the author of his plays. The results of the work have been published in the journalScience Advances.
The authors have made aanalysis of stylistic differencess between works attributed to the French playwright and actor Molière and works written by his contemporaries. To do this, they have usedcomputational linguistics.
The study “calls into question the speculation that the playwrightPierre Corneille, with the help of his brother Thomas Corneille, he could be the true author of Molière's works "
This idea dates back to 1919, when the French poet and writer Pierre Louÿs wrote an article attributing 'Amphitryon ' and some other works signed by Molière to Corneille.
The suspicion grew even more to encompass all of Molière's works. This theory was revived in the early 2000s by linguistics researchers who claimed that the styles of Corneille and Molière were extremely close.
The Molière's alleged poor education Y his moonlighting -Since apart from his theatrical activity he worked in the court of the French king- they still threw more doubts about the authorship of his works. In addition, scholars had difficulty resolving the debate, due to the limited availability of manuscripts archived.
Now,Florian Cafiero YJean-Baptiste Camps, the two authors of the new work and experts in linguistics, have used authorship attribution techniques to refute these speculations. His research has been based on a comprehensive statistical analysis of writing habits and mannerism of speech to identify the author of a text.
Analysis of expressions
“Each individual writes using a specific proportion of words, expressions or grammatical sequences. Even when someone consciously tries to imitate another style, some elements betray them, for example with the use of functional words - such as “de”, “then”, “del” - that we use without even thinking, ”says Cafiero.
The reliability of these techniques is remarkable. They are used byhistorians to identify the author of a medieval text, or by aintelligence agency to understand who may have written an anonymous threat.
Using these computational linguistics methods, the authors of this study read and analyzed these texts for three years, comparing among other things the rhymes, grammar, vocabulary or functional words present in the texts of Molière, Pierre Corneille, Scarron, Rotrou or Thomas Corneille.
This large-scale study indicates that the characteristics found in Molière's work were significantly different from those of any other author of the time.
In addition, the authors clarify that the works of Pierre Corneille are the ones that are stylistically distant from those of Molière. On the other hand, those of Scarron or Thomas Corneille are more similar.
Therefore, they conclude, “It is very likely that Molière's masterpieces were not written by Corneille, nor by another author, but simply by himself”.