Barber of Seville or the Futile Precaution a New English Translation

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Working from four different versions of Beaumarchais' text, this new translation represents the entire script as Beaumarchais published it in 1775, with a few important variants. It includes an introduction, a brief biography, and the historical background setting the Beaumarchais text in context. This version of The Barber of Seville was first performed on March 8, 1996 at Court Theatre at the University of Chicago.


"The translation made for us by Pestereau, Wakefield and Witt . . . . brings a forgotten classic vibrantly to life. The combined expertise of the translators works well together: complete familiarity with French and with English idiom, a comfortable acquaintance with theatre and its peculiar idiom. The translation is intelligently theatrical. It approaches this remarkable play in terms of its place on stage, its theatre history, its cultural imperatives. . . . The nuance of language, the approach to double entendre - all is superbly brought off. I recommend this translation with all the enthusiasm I can muster." - David Bevington

". . . existing translations are out of sync with the American idiom, making them difficult to teach to undergraduates. For these reasons, the delightfully contemporary translation in question responds to the need for more appropriate translations of often-taught plays to choose from. It is also important to note that this translation does not err in the other extreme, i.e. by being so interested in pleasing a contemporary audience that it is loosely translated, and consequently useless for anyone wishing to convey the genius of the Beaumarchais original. . . The collaborators . . . bring a rich variety of expertise to the translation. . . combined with the fact that the translation has been tried and proved successful by one of Chicago's most respected theaters, will serve to assure those wishing to use it for purposes of theatrical production, or classroom study, of its authority and viability. . . . I would not hesitate to assign this translation to students, nor to recommend it to colleagues looking for the best translation of Beaumarchais' Barber of Seville." - Anne Callahan

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