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adapted from the play by Jean Racine

By Richard Bunning

ISBN 978-0956293701
PRICE: £9.99


This play is based on Alexander the Great's expedition into the Punjab, and the subsequent battle of Hydaspes against King Porus in 326 B.C. Alexander was victorious; however this historic event had such an effect that this part of what is today Pakistan came to mark the furthest extension of his Empire. The fight against Porus proved to be just one too many for Alexander's all conquering army. After this engagement Alexander turned south to the Indian Ocean and a return to Babylon, where he died in 323 B.C.

The original neoclassical play was penned by Jean Racine in 1665. In this version Alexander the Great is adapted from classical French rhyming couplets into a more modern narrative English. All the elements of ancient Greek tragedy and neoclassical theatre are present in this play, including war, politics, betrayal, passion, rivalry, love and tragic death. The true action hero of this history is not Alexander, but rather Porus, who long wished to prove himself as the greatest of all leaders of the known world. Of the six principle actors it is the two female characters, Axiana and Cleophila, who are the real stars. It is they who give depth and structure to the plot. Racine stands high amongst the all time greats of French literature, being known in particular as one of a trio of famous neoclassical playwrights of his period, alongside Corneille and Molière.

This is in general terms a loyal reworking of Racine's play, which makes extensive use of previous English language versions as important aids to translating from the original. This book is not, though, designed to be an academic translation of Alexander the Great, but rather just a good interpretation. Richard Bunning's version is a serious attempt to make Racine's fine work more accessible to the English speaking world. It is, written to be a good general read, and as the basis of a workable English drama.

Alexander the Great by Richard Bunning
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