Le Paysan, Soldat Malgré Lui

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Le Paysan, Soldat Malgré Lui ("the peasant, or a soldier despite himself") is the title of a French one-act play by an anonymous author.

The original text

Nothing of substance is known about this text, this title only occurs in a production done in Cape Town in 1805 (see below). Actually, while the title Le Soldat Malgré Lui ("the soldier despite himself") also occurs in a number of books, with the same uncertainty about authorship, there seem to be a number of candidates for the source text:

François Parfaict and Claude Parfaict (Dictionnaire des Théâtres de Paris, 1756:p.194[1]) do mention a one-act verse play called Le Soldat Poltron (1668)[2], also known as Soldat Malgré Lui, ou l'Epreuve Amoreuse, written by Chevalier (pseudonym of Jean Simonin).

However, the text is also given as Argument de Le Soldat Poltron, ou Le Soldat Malgré Lui by Chevalier in Google Books.[3], though M. Antoine de Léris (Dictionnaire portatif historique et littéraire des théatres , 1763: p. 408 - Google E-book[4]), mentions that a play by this same name was performed at the Theatre de Marais, Paris, in 1668, but that he believes it to be by Rosimond (pseudonym for Claude de La Rose).

B. Babault (Annales dramatiques: ou, Dictionnaire général des théâtres Vol 8, 1811: p. 352 - Google E-Book [5], and a number of other sources, have Le Soldat Poltron, ou Le Soldat Malgré Lui a one act comedy by an anonymous author, written and performed in 1668.

F.C.L. Bosman (1928: p. 91) suggests that what we have in the case of the sole Cape Town performance is an adaptation by Monsieur Delémery of Le Soldat Malgré Lui, ou Le Soldat Poltron, a 1668 one act comedy by either Chevalier or Rosimond (he calls him "Rosigmond"), performed under the new title for performance on his tour, and more specifically for the performance in in Cape Town.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1805: Performed in French in Cape Town on 12 August by the French Amateur Company, with Monsieur Delémery in the lead. Also presented were Arlequin Protégé par Belphégor (a work devised by Delémery?) and Eraste, ou L'Enfant Proscrit de Son Père.


Facsimile version of the Dictionnaire des Théâtres de Paris, Google E-book[ https://books.google.co.za/books?id=sK5AAAAAYAAJ&dq=Arlequin,+soldat+malgr%C3%A9+lui&hl=af&source=gbs_navlinks_s]

M. Antoine de Léris. 1763. Dictionnaire portatif historique et littéraire des théatres , 1763: p. 408 - Google E-book[6]

B. Babault 1811. Annales dramatiques: ou, Dictionnaire général des théâtres Vol 8 - Google E-Book [7]


F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [8].

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