Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/29

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I begin by agreeing that we have the elements of a popular comic drama; of this Molière is the keystone. In some ways he apparently belongs more to the people than to the bourgeosie. The ideas of our class are not always in perfect accord with Molière's. If we were frank, we should sometimes confess to a feeling of revulsion, antipathy, which we none the less restrain for fear of making ourselves ridiculous by criticizing a classic. Our animal spirits have so decreased that we take little pleasure in the rough-and-tumble exploits of a Scapin or a Sbrigani, beatings and clysters, vulgar exhibitions, and above all in the brutal harshness of the often cruel vigor that is directed against weak and strong alike, sparing neither age nor infirmity, nor anything deserving of pity. The Great King roared with laughter when Lully, clad in mufti, jumped out over the end of the stage, and smashed a clavecin to bits with his feet and fists. Saint-Simon tells of the monstrous and inhuman tricks played by the attendants of the Duchess of Burgundy at Versailles, incidents revealing the savagery of the Court. Molière's actors were true interpreters of the spirit of the time. Today the people no longer enjoy