Is Molière a double star?

A double star … astronomical considerations

First of all, what did Lemaître mean by “double star”? This involves two stars attracted to each other by gravitation and which, so form a specific system together.Inusing that expression, Georges Lemaître referred to his studies in cosmology and illustrated the auctorial connectionswhich may exist in literature, as in the case of Molière, for, in his view, the problem was similar.

His conclusion: Molière is a double star

Georges Lemaître thus thinks that one and the same name covers: some of the works attributed to Molière and written or inspired by Louis XIV, and others written by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. This would explain differences in style, form, subject, etc. According to him, the last works are certainly not by Louis. At that time, the king notes in his memoirs, he has gotten older and his relations with Molière have deteriorated - He prefers Racine to him.

He justifies his hypotheses in explaining that it is not that we are mistaken about the person (e.g. it is not Jean-Baptiste Poquelin who is Molière, but Louis XIV who is Molière) but simply that two men wrote under the same hat, Molière being used as a nom de plume by Louis who, as king, could not write those types of plays.

Numerically, Lemaître estimates that about half the plays attributed to Molière are not necessarily by him. 

Carnet de notes relatives aux pièces de Molière

Method, analyses and reflections enabled him to arrive at certain conclusions, which all remain personal. Presenting a more confidential character, this investigation quite definitely constitutes research by the scientist and, let us not be mistaken here, he carried it out just as seriously as he did all his other research.

The reception of his research work

Georges Lemaître also distributed his hypothesis among students of literature and former members ofthe Facultyof Philosophy and Letters, who did not really take it very seriously. his talks took place at the teaching Cercle pédagogique de Louvain or atthe Rotunde. In fact,  generally speaking, no historian of literature accepted his hypothesis. Charles de Trooz, for example, was not satisfied with its argumentation. Théophile Hénusse, a Molierist by formation, also remained sceptical. As for his scientific colleagues, they did not understand his interest in the field. Most of them thought that it represented a parenthesis, a period of rest from his usual work. But that is not what it was for Lemaître was truly impassioned by his research. For his part, Dominique Lambert feels that they are interesting and well done, but that the methodology he used was probably not up to the task. Lastly, his entourage was astonished by his keen interest, except perhaps his niece Odette, who assisted him. 

Research on the author of the plays of Molière was a true passion for Georges Lemaître. He attached great importance to it, despite its distance from his usual research. Yet the press only rarely mentioned it: one article provides an account of his study Lemaîtrefrom the cosmos to Affected Young Ladies (La Libre Belgique, 1960). This involved a retrospective evaluation of the life and work of Lemaître which dealt briefly with his research on Molière. In 2012, Dominique Lambert, a leading expert on Georges Lemaître, published his study with the aid of Jean-François Viot.