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The Cid, Corneille's masterpiece set in medieval Spain, was the first great work of French classical drama; Cinna, written three years later in 1641, is a tense political drama, while The Theatrical Illusion, an earlier work, is reminiscent of Shakespeare's exuberant comedies.
Corneille, Pierre French dramatist. His tragedies, such as Horace (1640), Cinna (1641), and Oedipe (1659), glorify the strength of will governed by reason, and established the French classical dramatic tradition. His first comedy, Melite, was performed in 1629, followed by others that gained him a brief period of favour with Cardinal Richelieu. His early masterpiece, Le Cid (1636), was attacked by the Academicians, although it received public acclaim, and was produced in the same year as L'Illusion comique/The Comic Illusion. Although Corneille enjoyed public popularity, periodic disfavour with Richelieu marred his career, and it was not until 1639 that Corneille (again in favour) produced plays such as Polyeucte (1643), Le Menteur (1643), and Rodogune (1645), leading to his election to the Academie in 1647.