Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/52

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Our century has witnessed the development of still another type of play, one that has been immensely successful: the Bourgeois Drama. An outgrowth of the Tearful Comedy of the eighteenth century, it kept pace with a profound social evolution: the rise of a certain class to a position of great power. It owes what I must confess—putting aside my personal feelings—to be its legitimate success to the fact that it interpreted the spirit, the problems, and preoccupations of the class in question. There is nothing more just than that art should interpret the life of the time. Unfortunately, the Bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century, different from that of the sixteenth and seventeenth, takes less interest in practical than in abstract questions, especially in the matter of art. We are made uncomfortable in witnessing this in the theatrical productions which reflect it. Augier and Dumas fils, the spokesmen of the Bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century, did not depict characters—as Molière did; or conditions—as Diderot tried to do; or to write personal and intimate tragedies and domestic dramas—or when they tried, they were not successful. They are interested primarily in certain