Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/47

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the dominant note is an ordinary Naturalism—derived from the Encyclopedists—over which the Revolutionary stress and exasperated violence of German Romanticism have spread a thin veneer. Reeking with violence, bombast, bravura, striking metaphor, false science, and false thought, this type of drama is the swaggering bully of French art. The dramatists do not take the trouble to think, learn, or observe; their plays possess neither truth nor sincerity: they are masterly "bluffs." They are simply melodrama, exploiting the public, who swallow them out of sheer ignorance, deceived by the brilliancy of the style and the rank sentiment; for the people are easily moved without asking the reason why, and what is evil in them seeks out from under the pseudo-humanitarian and pseudo-religious varnish the bait of a gross materialism, and bites at it. The false brigands and false revolutionaries of this form are the first-born and most comely offspring of that Montmartre art which has since then so deeply influenced French thought. It is an art of literary coteries, abounding in talent, but scarcely ever reaching maturity, because it lacks restraint, sincerity, and self-criticism. All this Romantic upheaval smacks more of Bohemia than of the Revolution. In deafening the people with anarchistic declamations, these plays contribute more effectively toward keeping them in their present state of inertia than even the licensed purveyors of the Bourgeoisie. The poetic barrenness of the elder Dumas proves the essential emptiness of the melodrama type, stripped