Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/64

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orchestral symphony. It cannot be denied that this is popularizing art, but if popularizing means vulgarizing, then we are opposed to popularization. It is our purpose to infuse new blood into art, and expand its narrow chest by giving it the health and strength of the masses. We are not offering the glorious products of the human mind to the people; we appeal to the people to serve the cause of art.[1]

But we believe we can better serve the cause of art through the medium of the People's Theater than by popular readings. No matter what charm the reader brings to his work, that work is still only a sort of primary education, thrusting as it does the teacher between art and the public. In spite of all, the reading is a sort of preachment—intended as such by the reader, for he wishes gradually to initiate the people into the wonders of art; but so careful is he, that he selects what he considers the best of the theater and gives it to the people without the dangers of actual theatrical production, without the flesh-and-blood suggestiveness of acting which he considers bad for his audience. But it seems to me that he merely substitutes one danger

  1. We must not forget Dickens, whose success as a public reader, first at Birmingham in 1853, but principally between 1858 and 1870, both in England and America, induced many others to follow in his steps. Certain Frenchmen, however, were before him. In 1848 E. Souvestre spoke before the workingmen of Paris in his Lectures publiques du Soir (see Sainte-Beuve: Causeries du Lundi, I, 275). At about the same time, Carnot offered V. Duruy the position of "Reader to the People" (see Paul Crouzet: Littérature et Conférences populaires).