Page:Sophocles - Seven Plays, 1900.djvu/31

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xxv
PREFATORY NOTE TO EDITION OF 1883

best known to those who have seen him acted, whether in Greek, as by the students at Harvard[1] and Toronto[2], and more recently at Cambridge[3], or in English long ago by Miss Helen Faucit (since Lady Martin[4]), or still earlier and repeatedly in Germany, or in the French version of the Antigone by MM. Maurice and Vacquerie (1845) or of King Oedipus by M. Lacroix, in which the part of Œdipe Roi was finely sustained by M. Geoffroy in 1861, and by M. Mounet Sully in 1881[5] With reference to the latter performance, which was continued throughout the autumn season, M. Francisque Sarcey wrote an article for the Temps newspaper of August 15, 1881, which is full of just and vivid appreciation. At the risk of seeming absurdly 'modern', I will quote from this article some of the more striking passages.

'Ce troisième et ce quatrième actes, les plus émouvants qui se soient jamais produits sur aucune scène, se composent d'une suite de narrations, qui viennent l'une après l'autre frapper au cœur d'Œdipe, et qui ont leur contrecoup dans l'âme des spectateurs. Je ne sais qu'une pièce au monde qui soit construite de la sorte, c'est l'École des Femmes. Ce rapprochement vous parai-

  1. Oed. Tyr., 1881.
  2. Antigone, 1882.
  3. Ajax, Nov. 1882.
  4. Antigone, 1845.
  5. The performance of Greek plays (as of the Agamemnon at Oxford in 1880) is not altogether a new thing in England. The author of Ion, Mr. Serjeant Talfourd, in his Notice prefixed to that drama of 1836, mentions, amongst other reasons for having intended to dedicate it to Dr. Valpy 'the exquisite representations of Greek Tragedy, which he superintended,' and which 'made his images vital.' At a still earher time, 'the great Dr. Parr' had encouraged his pupils at Stanmore to recite the dialogue of Greek tragedies before an audience and in costume. It would be ungrateful to omit all reference here to some performances of the Trachiniae in English in Edinburgh and St. Andrews in 1877, which, though not of a public nature, are still remembered with dehght by those who were present at them, and were really the first of a series.