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with which these ideas and ideals conflict within him. Poet and philosopher, trained for engineering and affairs, & solitary sportsman of the fields and forests, M. de Curel broods over the figures he evokes, dowering them with the variousness and vigour that are his own, with his aloofness and disdain of all banality. What course shall these figures shape for themselves, highly exceptional in character and circumstance, seen on a larger scale than wonted life affords, grandiose, monstrous ? In the contemplation of them he passes insensibly from the impartial to the sympathetic mood till at length, in the hour of crisis, they and he must face the Inscrutable, baffled, wistful, awed. He has no conclusions to

, . offer. As for the life of the heart, sorrow comes, and tragic solitude, whether the strait or the broad and flowery path be followed. Love may exalt, or redeem, but also may prompt to self-seeking, to domination, even to murder in thought or act. Or love is a mirage-a mask assumed by a self-deluding idealism ("L'Invitée’; *L'Envers d'une Sainte'; 'La Danse devant le Miroir ').

But it is the problem of Authority that mainly exercises M. François de Curel. He has his terrorstriking aristocrat, who overrides all scruples if so he may prolong his line which, of right, should serve France, nay save it in the hour of peril. He has his collision of the lonely and masterful savant with the multitude, avid of equality and materialistic ease; while the 'superman' of his best-known play, re-converted from socialism, and aristocrat throughout, arrogates the lion's share for the few that stimulate and guide the masses. He has his new Faust in quest of leadership, of the right to govern. In a single play he foreshortens nothing less than the development of humanity itself, with its conflict of science and religion ("Les Fogsiles'; 'Le Coup d’Aile'; 'Le Repas du Lion'; .La Comédie du Génie; La Fille sauvage'). Indeed, these studies of souls are philosophical dramas, rather for private evocation than public performance.

The bounds of the theatre are transcended. M. François de Curel is ever reshaping them to finality; he but avails himself of the stage performance the better to envisage his characters, and mould their speech to more intimate truthfulness.

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M. Émile Fabre, younger than the members of the preceding group, is a satirist like M. Brieux, but almost with a single aim. Of a stern pessimism, he assails the corruption of public life, the entanglement of political intrigue and finance. If Jules Lemaître, using again as it were the sober if unsparing pen of an Augier, brought politics upon the stage with his Deputé Leveaux,' the intention of M. Fabre is to leave no ignominy of officeseekers unexposed. He is novel, moreover, in his handling of the crowd, collaborating almost unconsciously in enormities from which the individuals, as such, who compose it might well shrink. In •La Vie publique,' the electorate is at once subject and background; while as a further step his Ventres dorés,'

· his shareholders raging on the brink of ruin, are the whole action and many-headed protagonist. His vision penetrates, but is all too sinister. His scorn rings virile and true; but one remembers that for a satirist his very occupation would be gone, did he remit his hate and discover some soul of good not altogether stifled in evil, however flagrant. M. Fabre unduly simplifies after the fashion of his one-time colleagues of the Théâtre Libre. But he follows the bent of his talent, renewing Augier, and no small portion of Balzac's problem.

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Any division of the contemporary dramatists into an elder and a younger group can only be artificial and for convenience. The prominent members of the younger group have already given the taste of their quality ; their measure is fairly ascertained. If M. Henry Bataille and M. Henry Bernstein-they and M. Fabre were born within a few years of each other-be reasonably taken as representative, perchance there is to be discerned in them a certain tendency towards the disintegration of the current dramatic formula. But, after all, they are far from being as original and revolutionary as they would claim. At all events, they are in contrast, complementary each to the other.

M. Bataille is the poet, disillusioned and of a morbid charm; the psychologist intuitively versed in the complicated refinements of exceptional and equivocal feeling. His heroes mournfully delight in analysing their own subtle sorrows. His world is one in which

sensibility dominates, and instinct grasps at the vain promise of felicity. But social ordinances are not disregarded with impunity ; the misery or ruin of the rebellious is a foregone conclusion for M. Bataille. Flaubert, long ago, in reaction against the Romanticists, had heaped disaster upon his Mme Bovary, with intent to show the folly of all aspiration to escape the dull and trivial round. M. Bataille's gallery of women, Maman

• Colibri' and the rest, are so many variants of the type. But, as poet or morbid poet of the heart, he is not ruthless, like Flaubert; he would even elicit sympathy for his pathetic victims of indefeasible nature. And if sensibility and sentiment are, with him, rather physical than psychical, he could doubtless plead that he follows old doctrine. It is the doctrine of Balzac, Sainte-Beuve and Taine; humanity lies prisoner in the bonds of material nature. "Yet Ariel is to be found in Caliban.' Completing this phrase of his in a manifesto, M. Bataille declares that, in his newest judgment, the honour of humanity rests in spiritualising instinct. And accordingly, in “Les Flambeaux,' he symbolises the savants, or rather the ideas that illumine the onward path of mankind-ideas that run counter, clashing with each other, leaving us in awed darkness, as M. François de Curel has told us. Be that as it may, M. Bataille, in his postwar 'Seurs d'Amour,' has so far progressed along the onward path as to depict a passion that can impose a limit upon itself, like the elder morals and stage.

M. Henry Bernstein, also, reckons with physiology and pathology to the full, or overmuch. But he is plainly, abundantly, not the poet but the dramatist, concerned with will-power and action. If M. Bataille's attitude is that of tired acquiescence, of resignation to the ravages of neurasthenia, M. Bernstein is athirst for energy and the prompt deed. For the study of souls he Ꮎ has no care; his pathos is curt and harsh. What is of grace and delicacy can be left to M. Donnay and M. Bataille ; for himself he elects rapid violence, the brutal effect. Of a truth, his characters are lively on the wires,' as Thackeray would say. His aim is reached, if he discovers the situation in which these characters, in high combat, must unbosom and reveal themselves in their complete abjection, interchanging buffets and

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words that are equally staggering. One almost looks for the police to interfere. And yet he demands sympathy for his beasts of prey, for his Delilahs in the making or already made. And, so demanding, he further proclaims in manifestos his scorn of morals and a moralising stage. For him the task of exactly reflecting the state of the public in its anarchy. Examining the stress of human activity and its sources, he has come to the clear knowledge that each pursues, of nature and necessity and right, his own advantage. Adoring force, he is assuredly forceful in bis dramas, as witness the very titles, · La Griffe,'· La Rafale.'

To consider the specialists in fantasy and farce, such as MM. Georges Courteline, Pierre Veber, Tristan Bernard, Jules Renard, Georges Feydeau, would be to discuss the peculiarities of French humour as now current. And there are other of the younger playwrights only to be omitted upon the allowable plea that not yet have they fully exhibited themselves. But it is impossible not to linger a moment with M. Sacha Guitry, and lightly touch upon the collaboration of MM. Caillavet and Flers, if only to illustrate still once more the wide divergences compatible with the present form of the drama. M. Sacha Guitry is persistently the darling of Parisian audiences. He is of the theatre by all closest connexion. He fits a father unchallenged in

a his art, and of late a wife of remarkable congruity, with parts that permit all virtuosity. Upon his own boards he sets forth a world of his own choosing. Clever and all too clever, the brilliant improviser, he could airily carry off his slightest sketch, even should he have enlarged it into comedy. How was he to be accused of non-morality or nihilism, since he elicited the constant peal of laughter? Delightfully deplorable, should not his defiance of convention, his universal irreverence, be set down to the account of youthful paradox and ebullience ? Eminently French, with added years he was pretty sure to become some sort of moralist, even if he retained his vivacity. Already with a 'Pasteur' or a Jean de la Fontaine' he could alternate dignity and light malice. Such plays have their inherent defect, if only that they trade upon the preconceived lustre of dead heroes; but for M. Guitry there are no obstacles of

subject or technique which he cannot overleap with ease. And each success

comes the more welcome to his audience that they were sure of it in advance.

The success also of M. Armand de Caillavet and M. Robert de Flers—but how shall the loss of the latter in the war be remedied ?—was wide and insistent. They achieved anew the well-made play which Scribe bequeathed to Dumas and Augier. They recalled Meilhac, or perhaps still more Pailleron-regretfully omitted above, along with Octave Feuillet-in delicate sparkle. They offered all possible bribes for glad acceptance. The tone of 'good' society, the adroitest sentiment, the happy ending-how should these fail? They might risk what they would in the way of light audacity, sure to provoke condoning smiles. They nicely anticipated the desire of the public, providing it at once with what was newest of the new, and with the characters and situations beloved for old acquaintance.

In delineating the various personalities of these dramatists, some discussion of technique has necessarily been involved. Throughout the period, there is a marked approximation of the drama to the novel of—it is presumed-outward and inward reality. The difference of the two genres, in their conditions, is sufficiently obvious. The one addresses itself to the imagination of a definite individual in his private leisure; and the other, with use of direct speech and gesture, confronts mixed tastes and the uncertain gusts of collective feeling. Nor is there any easy transference of the novel, even if already dramatic and concentrated, to the stage; the work should be conceived from the first in the one or the other mode. Dramatic.optics' are also to be considered, and the special style, if the spoken word is to cross the footlights. The relations of plot and character are of anxious importance; the close-knit plot has its way of narrowing persons to puppets, while living character is the creative task of a Molière, a Balzac. But character moulds circumstance, and circumstance character. Drama, action, cannot reserve to itself the exhibition of will-power, leaving to the novel the pressure of environment. Moreover, the interpretative representation of life must reckon with the characteristics of a French


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