Molière, Tartuffe, Dr. Seuss, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas

An unexpected connection between Dr. Seuss and one of the greatest French dramatists of all time.

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Grinch 8d6b92b2-a41e-4740-8689-e986a12416fd
The Grinch, from Dr. Seuss’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Picture source: http://www.playbuzz.com/nedbullock10/how-much-of-a-grinch-are-you.

Molière was one of the great French dramatists.  He lived just after Shakespeare, and you can compare them quite a bit in terms of their skill with language–reading his play Le Tartuffe in the original was almost adequate recompense for two years of studying French, mostly in the hours before sunrise.

Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved American children’s authors.  His classic Green Eggs and Ham was the first book my child ever read out loud, and the notorious American politician-nihilist Ted Cruz read it out loud on the floor of the Senate during his attempt to shut down the American government by filibuster.

One of Dr. Seuss’s most famous characters is the Grinch.  In his book How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch is a nasty, bitter character who decides to ruin everyone else’s Christmas by stealing their Christmas presents.

Reading the commentaries on Le Tartuffe, I was thrilled to see the character of Mme. Pernelle, the curmudgeonly mother of one of the main characters, described as grincheuse.  WordReference.com defines grincheux/grincheuse (male and female forms) as “grumpy, grouchy, or cranky.”  Could this be the origin of the name “Grinch”?  Wikipedia says yes!  Who would’ve guessed?

 

2 thoughts on “Molière, Tartuffe, Dr. Seuss, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas”

  1. It’s often been pointed out that the point of “Green Eggs and Ham” seems to be “don’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it,” which is exactly what Cruz doesn’t seem to want to do with Obamacare.

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