Underlying many of the ideas examined in earlier chapters of this book is a concept dear to the hearts of most writers in seventeenth-century France, that of what they called la vraisemblance (or le vraisemblable) and which is usually translated into English as ‘verisimilitude’. This desire to avoid showing what was, or might be judged, improbable and to insist on probability can be seen to fit in with several aims—with the ‘moral purpose’ which many dramatists said they gave to their plays (even if such didacticism was often far from clear), with the unification of the action and observance of the unities of time and place, and in general terms with the universality rather than the particular nature of classical literature as a whole. And while verisimilitude might seem to contrast with the theory of imitation contained in ut pictura poesis, it has its part to play in illusionism.


Moral Purpose Historical Truth Early Chapter Stage Direction Dramatic Person 
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Copyright information

© C. J. Gossip 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. J. Gossip
    • 1
  1. 1.University College of SwanseaUK

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