French writer Jean Anouilh. - Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

1987 - French playwright Jean Anouilh, who became one of the most controversial and versatile dramatists in Europe by portraying the human condition with scorn and compassion, died in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was 77. Anouilh, known for plays such as Eurydke and Antigone in which he reinterpreted Greek myths, died of a heart attack after two days in hospital. Anouilh moved to Lausanne in 1947, had been ill for some time. Anouilh’s works, mixing dream and reality, have won worldwide popularity. A writer with an acute feeling for dialogue in the tradition of French classics, he was in his last years the most frequently performed playwright in France. His wartime masterpiece Antigone produced in 1944 with bombs whistling outside, was seen as an example to the French resistance to the German Nazi occupation. Yet in later years he was accused of pessimistic, rightwing anarchism. He was deeply disappointed by the events in France after the liberation, in 1944, seeing widespread cowardice and a spirit of revenge and hatred.

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