Les Femmes savantes (The Learned Ladies) is a comedy by Moliere in five acts, written in verse. A satire on academic pretention, female education, and preciosite (French for preciousness), it was one of his most popular comedies. It premiered at the Theatre du Palais-Royal on 11 March 1672. Two young people, Henriette and Clitandre, are in love, but in order to marry, they must overcome an obstacle: the attitude of Henriette's family. Her sensible father and uncle are in favour of the marriage; but unfortunately her father is under the thumb of his wife, Philaminte. And Philaminte, supported by Henriette's aunt and sister, wishes her to marry Trissotin, a scholar and mediocre poet with lofty aspirations, who has these three women completely in his thrall. For these three ladies are learned ; their obsession in life is learning and culture of the most pretentious kind, and Trissotin is their special protege and the fixture of their literary salon. The Learned Ladies was the last-but-one of Moliere's plays and the last of his great rhyming-couplet comedies. Its predecessors had used the artificiality of the style to add point and irony to some of Moliere's most trenchant examinations of aspects of the human condition. For lighter-hearted satire, sending up specific behaviour rather than the general human condition, Moliere tended to use prose. The Learned Ladies has the best of both worlds: it satirises a specific fad (intellectual pretension) but - perhaps because its subject requires an appropriately high style - is written in rhyming verse. Targeting cultural sbbery, The Learned Ladies mocks the fashion, current among upper-class ladies, for holding salons to discuss such learned matters as the arts, philosophy and science. The joke, to Moliere's audience, was t merely intellectual sbbery, but that the sbs were women. This was an age when matters of the mind were, in theory, still the province of men; upper-class women were expected to be charming, witty, interested in the world and its doings, but t scholars. The majority of the aristocratic ladies in Moliere's own audience probably took this view and shared the opinion of the men, that learned ladies and their gatherings were fools, fit targets for the pedants, charlatans and other confidence-tricksters who preyed on them. The Learned Ladies played for a couple of dozen performances (a successful run for court plays at the time) and attracted ne of the hostility and scandal of Moliere's more contentious works. This French-to-English translation is by A. R. Waller and is scrupulously accurate to Moliere's meaning.