Reading the Racinian Kaleidoscope through the Colour Red in Phèdre


Notwithstanding the generous amount of scholarly inquiry on Racine and, more precisely, on his use of metaphors, few scholars have directly and substantially approached the ways in which precise colours are deployed by Racine. Consequently, this article explores the progression of words related to the colour red in Racine’s Phèdre, demonstrating that the colour red goes from being deployed as dead metaphor to becoming the literal instrument of tragedy. The article concludes by suggesting further inquiry into a literal kaleidoscope of colours in Racine’s work.

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  1. 1.

    See, for example, Ronald Tobin’s and Angus Kennedy’s Changing Perspectives: Studies on Racine in Honor of John Campbell (2012).

  2. 2.

    This is not to say that there have been no “totalizing” approaches since Campbell. Consider, for example Mitchell Greenberg’s Racine: From Ancient Myth to Tragic Modernity (2010), which argues that “the entire Racinian endeavour would be the rescription of Oedipus legend as it becomes intertwined with the ideological dilemma of the nascent absolutist state.” (p. 15).

  3. 3.

    Sylvaine Guyot’s Racine et le corps tragique (2014) does make a few quick, but interesting, notes on chromatic changes related to blushing, but does not subsequently develop them.


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Correspondence to Adi S. Bharat.

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Bharat, A.S. Reading the Racinian Kaleidoscope through the Colour Red in Phèdre . Neophilologus 101, 367–374 (2017).

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  • Racine
  • Phèdre
  • Colour metaphors
  • Dead metaphors
  • Red