Слике страница
PDF
ePub

surprised by the spontaneity of this public by Mr. William Archer and laughter. And even more surprising Mr. Edmund Gosse; but, when these was the tardy discovery of the re two enlightened critics endeavoured viewers that The Wild Duck is gen to deliver their discovery, they found uinely enjoyable in the theatre. Ibsen themselves impeded by the mediæval had lost much, in the appreciation of institution of the British censorship the public, from the accidental fact of plays. Because of this impedithat his plays had been banished ment, the very first performance of from our current stage for nearly a an Ibsen play in England—that dozen years. During the passage of epoch-making production of Ghosts this decade, he had come to be re which was shown in 1891. by Mr. garded to state the fact conveni J. T. Grein before the private audiently in slang—as a sort of "high ence of the Independent Theatre Sobrow," instead of a sure-enough com ciety-was regarded by the general petitor for the plaudits of an avid public as a thing tabooed and fung audience with so practical a pair of beyond the pale. In consequence of playwrights as Mr. George Broad this condition, the comments called hurst and Mr. Bayard Veiller.

forth by this first performance of a play of Ibsen's in the English language were based upon contrasted

theories of ethics instead. of being Ibsen died in 1906; and now, for based on theories of dramaturgic the first time, he is beginning to be craftsmanship. appreciated in this country from the Ibsen was criticised—in the Engdisinterested point of view of sheer land of the early eighteen-ninetiesdramatic criticism. So long as he as a sociologist, a philosopher, a man was still alive, his plays were studied of letters, a moralist, a propagannot as plays, but under the different dist,-in short, as everything except labels of "literature,” “philosophy," the one thing that he really was, or "sociology.” The casual patrons a practical and interesting playof our theatre were told that they wright. His technique—as a professhould see his dramas because of a sional dramatist was not discussed, sense of duty and not because of the despite the repeated pleas of so apincentive of enjoyment; and, in pur- pealing a dramatic critic as Mr. suance of this method, even so popu Archer. Instead, his commentators lar a piece as A Doll's House was pro and concontented themheralded by many commentators as selves with throwing mud or throwing a sort of family funeral.

roses against his subject-matter,The reason for this cul de sac, which is, of course, the last thing to which pocketed for many many years be considered by a genuine dramatic the popularity of Ibsen as a pur critic in analysing any well-made veyor of entertainment, is easily ap- · play. Not what an author says, but parent. Our native knowledge of how effectively he says it in the Ibsen was imported overseas from theatre, is the proper theme for celeEngland; and it was in England that bration by dramatic criticism; for, the misconception of this author as a in the great art of the drama, the “high-brow" first originated. Ibsen

Ibsen "message” of an author is superior was "discovered” for the English to commen“, and nothing offers invi

tation to the technical interpreter throughout the formative period of but the mere efficiency displayed, or his youth, he exerted all his energies, missed, in the elocution of this "mes at a dollar a day, to the tasks of setsage” to the public.

ting forth a new play every week

with a stock-company localised beIII

fore the public of a little city as se

cluded as Schenectady, New York. Because of the incubus of the Brit In these years of his apprenticeish censorship, an impression was ship, Ibsen had no time to read; and spread abroad, throughout the eigh- all that he could learn was acquired teen-nineties, that Ibsen should be re incidentally from his necessary busigarded as a philosophic thinker and ness of presenting to the local Bera man of letters, instead of being gen public many French plays of the judged as a playwright ambitious to school of Scribe. His own first play receive the plaudits of the theatre- of any prominence--Lady Inger of going public. From the effect of this östrat-was written in emulation of misconceived impression, our casual the current formula of Scribe; and American audience is only now begin- this minor but inevitable incident is ning to recover. Our local public is indicative of the important fact that now learning, tardily, to see that Ibsen's education was derived not Ibsen was a playwright, first and last from the library but from the stage. and all the time.

Never at any time-in the midst of The truth of the matter now, at

a perilous attempt to earn his living last, appears to be that Ibsen was a against agonising odds-did Ibsen very great artist of the theatre, and ever find the leisure to become a “man was nothing else at all. Quite ob of letters.” In his twenties and his viously—in the cold light of our later thirties, he read a few plays of learning—he cannot be accepted seri- Schiller and a few plays of Shakeously as a man of letters. He had no speare; and, at the same period, he literary training; and he never ac seems to have become more familiar quired the advantage of a literary than he was willing later to admit culture. In the decade of his 'teens, with both parts of Goethe's Faust; he did not go to school: in the decade but, to the end of his days, he reof his twenties, he was not even regis- mained distinctly—and this fact betered as a regular student in the pro- came with him a point of pride-a vincial University of Christiania. playwright who knew next to nothing His entire education was not literary of the history of literature. Though but theatrical. At the age of twenty- most Norwegians are accustomed, as four, he went to Bergen as the gen a matter of course, to study many eral stage-manager of a stock-com- other languages, Ibsen never acquired pany in that isolated town; and, in an easy fluency in any foreign tongue this capacity, he worked a dozen but German. Late in his life, he said hours every day throughout five to one of his Boswells that he hated successive years. His annual sal- all the plays of Alexander Dumas fils, ary amounted, in round numbers, to and added the unexpected comment, three hundred dollars; and his ap- _“But, of course, I have never read prenticeship may be understood most them.” The last remark was, prequickly if we face the fact that, sumably, more candid than the first:

for Ibsen, in his later years, was time,—that is to say, a craftsman genuinely proud of the fact that he whose task it was to interest the pubhad read little except the daily lic by holding, as 't were, a mirror up newspapers. When commentators to nature in the actual, commercial pointed out that the patterned for theatre. His teacher was Eugéne mula of Ghosts recalled the tech- Scribe, — that exceedingly adroit nique of Euripides, he would retort technician who codified the formula irately that he had never read of “the well-made play” (la pièce Euripides.

bien faite”]; and the contemporary It was not until the time of the of whose exploits he was most justly Italian tour which Ibsen undertook jealous was Alexander Dumas fils, in the middle of his thirties that he who, like himself, attempted in his ever actually saw any of the major own way to improve and to perfect works of architecture, painting, or the formula of Scribe. Ibsen was not sculpture that are existent in the a philosopher; for he was ignorant world. At this belated moment, he of the accumulated records of philoattempted-to employ a phrase that sophic literature. The author of is current in the narrowly restricted Brand and Peer Gynt is not to be reworld of professional baseball-a garded primarily as a poet; for he "delayed steal” of culture; and his had never studied any other univerexperience ran parallel to that of our sally important poem except the first own Nathaniel Hawthorne, who also and second parts of Goethe's Faust. made a pilgrimage to Italy at a time To sum the matter up, he should not of life too long deferred. Like Haw be considered in any other light than thorne, Ibsen appreciated the wrong as an honest craftsman of the theatre paintings, admired the wrong statues, who endeavoured in accordance and waxed enthusiastic over the with that downright statement of the wrong works of architecture. While practical Pinero—“to give rise to showing the sensitised impressibility the greatest possible amount of that of a responsive temperament, he be peculiar kind of emotional effect, the trayed also the effects of an early production of which is the one great education that had been exceedingly function of the theatre.” defective. Even in responding to the Because of the distressing influence appeals of such æsthetic regions as of a mediæval British censorship, Rome, Sorrento, and Amalfi, Ibsen Ibsen was long regarded, in the Engremained the stage-director of a lish-speaking theatre, as a sort of stock-company in Schenectady, in Doctor Munyon of the drama, lifting stead of rising to the rarer at loftily an admonitory finger to the mosphere of a stimulated man of moralists and crying, "I'm for letters.

health !", while his opponents counIf Ibsen lacked culture in the realm tered with the Puritanical assertion of letters--and he frequently, when that his purpose and effect were interviewed, insisted on the point that merely to disseminate disease. Now he was not well-read-it is even more at last—in consequence of the reobvious that he claimed no standing peated efforts of Madame Nazimova whatsoever as a sociologist or a phi and the new enthusiasm of Mr. Arlosopher. He regarded himself as a thur Hopkins—the undertakings of playwright, first and last and all the this downright manufacturer of

plays for the general and normal admiration of all who seek “to learn public are beginning to be appre- and propagate the best that is known ciated at their worth, as composi- and thought in the theatre of the tions which require the disinterested world.”

VIOLETS

BY NANCY BARR MAVITY

THERE's a place for violets,
By a brown stream, among the long swaying grasses ;
Deep and purple and wistful and tender and gay,
Fresh as the joy of youth.
I have filled my hands with their green stems,
I have hidden my face in their coolness.
Violets, I lean to kiss you over the years.

But there's a place for violets-
They laugh and shake their beauty to the wind;
They need no aid of memories.
Where I walk the grey streets they are blue,
And snow cannot cover their fragrance.
You planted them in my heart, my friend-
I send you violets out of the love in my heart.

CHRONICLE AND COMMENT

The promoters of the Liberty only planned and advocated AmeriLoan have found good material for can independence at a time when

their propaganda freedom of the colonies was a dream History Repeats work in the writings yet undreamed, but by personal ef

of Thomas Paine, fort he brought about its accom

author of Common plishment. Sense, the first book (1776) to advocate American independence, and No pamphlet ever written sold in The Crisis, a series of inspiriting such vast numbers as did Common pamphlets which followed Common

Sense, nor has its Sense in rapid succession when the An Early "Best effect been ever par

Seller" revolution of the colonies had been

alleled in literary established. The first sentence of

history. Of the first this quotation from The Crisis heads edition more than one hundred and Liberty Loan posters, and the entire twenty thousand were sold within a paragraph is used on other literature few weeks. Paine donated all the fiof the propaganda:

nancial proceeds to the patriot.cause. These are the times that try men's souls.

Six months after its publication a The summer soldier and the sunshine pa

Declaration of Independence, comtriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the ser prising the principal arguments of vice of their country, but he that stands it

Paine's pamphlet and a good deal of now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not

its actual phrasing, was signed by the easily conquered; yet we have this consola patriots in Philadelphia. The theory tion with us, that the harder the conflict, has been frequently advanced that the more glorious the triumph. What we

Thomas Paine actually drafted that obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its

immortal document, and several value. Heaven knows how to put a proper

books and pamphlets have been pubprice upon its goods; and it would be lished on this subject, but conclusive strange indeed if so celestial an article as proof is lacking. freedom should not be highly rated.

In Paine's Crisis may be found the Thomas Paine is too little known first use of the words “United States in America, even among literary folk,

of America.” The who should should pay Devoted to

phrase occurs in an The First

Patriotism homage to him as

impassioned appeal American Author the very first Amer

for support of the ican author. The patriot cause. “The United States makers of school histories have been of America," Paine wrote, “will strangely neglectful of this very im- sound as pompously in the world, or portant figure in the founding of this in history, as 'the Kingdom of Great nation. Leaving the name of Thomas Britain." In Paine's spirited writPaine out of the story of the United ings of the American Revolutionary States is like ignoring Copernicus in War period may be found some of a history of astronomy. Paine not the loftiest as well as some of the

« ПретходнаНастави »