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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Critical Introduction by Frank Wadleigh Chandler (1873–1947)

By The Drama of the Early Twentieth Century

BEFORE the close of the nineteenth century it was apparent that a revolution had occurred in the dramatic world. This revolution, induced by the scientific spirit and the influence of potent personalities, involved a departure from tradition, a return to nature, and an endeavor to envisage contemporary life without fear or favor. Just as Ibsen had preached truth and freedom for the individual, so critics and playwrights were now seeking truth and freedom for the stage. André Antoine gave the first impulse to the new theatrical movement by providing unconventional plays for subscribers interested in something besides frivolous pastime. His Théâtre Libre (1887–1894) introduced to Parisians Ibsen, Björnson, Tolstoy, Hauptmann, and many native playwrights hitherto unknown. Its success, moreover, inspired similar undertakings, from the Théâtre de l’Œuvre of Lugné-Poë, the stage of the symbolists, and the Théâtre d’Art Social, the stage of the anarchists, to the Independent Theatre of London, opened in 1891 by J. T. Grein, and the Berlin Freie Bühne, established in 1889 under the direction of Otto Brahm. Other experimental theatres followed,—the Deutsche Bühne, the Fresko-Bühne, the Vienna Verein für modernes Leben, and Max Halbe’s Intimes Theater in Munich, reinforced by attempts to appeal to the masses through a free folk-stage, spreading from Berlin to Hamburg and Vienna.

In London, the Independent Theatre, after wooing naturalism for a year or two, turned to symbolism and Maeterlinck, and then gave way to the more important Stage Society, organized by Frederick Whelen in 1899. A year earlier William Butler Yeats, in emulation of the enterprises of Antoine and Grein, had founded the Irish National Theatre Society in Dublin; from which there emerged, in 1903, the Abbey Theatre, leased for the society by Miss Horniman. Similar repertory theatres sprang up in Cork and Belfast, in Glasgow and Manchester; and in London, in 1904, the New Century Theatre was opened under the direction of J. E. Vedrenne and Granville Barker. This developed into the Court Theatre, which gave plays by Maeterlinck, Hauptmann, and Schnitzler, and fostered the efforts of Yeats, Hahkin, Galsworthy, and Shaw. In America, interest in a more vital stage found expression in the native pieces of Herne, in the critical work of professors at Columbia, Yale, and Harvard, in the foundation of a repertory theatre in Chicago, and of the ambitious New Theatre, opened in 1909 in New York. The failure of this venture after three seasons, and of the Duke of York’s Repertory Theatre after one, could not quench the ardor of the reformers. As a result, all sorts and conditions of experimental stages have arisen, from the movable Portmanteau Theatre of Stuart Walker, to the great and flourishing Moscow Art Theatre of Nemirovitch-Dantschenko.

First and last, the movement has been productive of beneficial results. The evils of the long run and the star system have been made manifest. Opportunity has been afforded to break from old artifices, and from slavery to the demands of commercial managers and an unintelligent public. A premium has been placed upon novelty of conception, composition, staging, and acting. The over-elaborate realism fashionable in stage settings in the ’nineties has been refined and counterbalanced by an impressionism both decorative and suggestive. Within a few years, moreover, as a result of the efforts of Antoine and his successors, the fundamentals of dramaturgic art have been subject to revision.

Not long since, the physical conditions of the theatre were accepted as determining the drama, a fact reiterated by critics of the school of Walkley, Matthews, and Hamilton. Now, the dramatist and the scenic artist are themselves engaged in determining theatrical conditions, as witness the achievements in this direction of Craig, Reinhardt, Barker, Bakst, Stanislawsky, and Ordynski. But recently the law of crowd-psychology was supposed to make of the dramatist merely an echo of the sentiments of a mob, sentiments necessarily more primitive and less intellectual than those of the individuals composing it. Now, the dramatist does not hesitate to dictate ideas to his audience, frankly assuming it to be within his power and province to shape their opinions. Once, the elements of conflict and crisis were held to be indispensable to the drama, a doctrine of late upheld by Brunetière and Archer. But an increasing number of plays minimize crisis and conflict, shifting the struggle to the inner life, claiming our interest for the passive hero, and sometimes substituting for the tension of wills mere spectacle or mood.

Thus the drama has grown novelistic, departing from its old reliance upon striking situations and close-knit plot, ceasing often to follow an action to a climax or any definite conclusion. Sometimes it is expanded to describe the traits and doings of a family in several generations; sometimes it is concentric rather than progressive; frequently, it degenerates into mere discussion. Its stage-directions, too, have taken color from the novel, replacing the stage-manager’s jargon with illuminating literary comment by the playwright. This change is due in part to the sudden demand in all countries for plays to be read, a demand first excited by the works of Ibsen; but it is also evidence of a tendency to draw closer together the novel and the drama, an extreme example of which is afforded in the Sea Gull Theatre of Moscow. Here chapters from ‘Don Quixote,’ ‘The Pickwick Papers,’ and ‘The Brothers Karamasoff’ are read aloud by an elocutionist, who pauses at intervals that suitable portions of the action and dialogue may be represented as they stand, without formal dramatization.

Obviously, the present is a time of experimentation for playwrights. One departs from the chronological order, building his drama backwards. Another obliterates divisions into acts, and holds to the unities. Still others defy the unities, leaping lightly over bounds of time and place, influenced in part by the technic of the moving picture which promises to lend to the legitimate drama increased elasticity. Fantastic dreams are acted out as romantic interludes within pieces that are matter-of-fact. Prologues and epilogues are put to new uses, and the ancient parabasis is revived. There are grave or sportive exercises in symbolism, hit-or-miss conversations exploiting a thesis, and lurid glimpses of low-life repulsively naturalistic. There are static studies of the family, and dynamic studies of a social caste, plays with a hero never seen, and those without a hero, each act shifting to a fresh group of persons. There is the short piece written wholly in monologue; the pantomime; the full-length drama developed by means of only three characters; and the play that gives the lie to dramatic tradition by omitting every scène à faire. There are ingenious attempts to duplicate the machinery of the Oriental or the mediæval stage, to cultivate the out-of-door production, and to develop pageantry, with all its accessories of poetry, costume, music, dance, and panoramic setting.

The most noteworthy technical product of the new drama is the one-act play. Thanks to the efforts of Maeterlinck, Strindberg, Sudermann, Schnitzler, Lady Gregory, Barrie, Middleton, Shaw, and a score of others, its rise has been rapid. Ibsen, when he revealed by successive unveilings a complex antecedent series of events, prepared for this art. He showed that the tragedy of a lifetime might be implied in the dialogue of twenty minutes. A hurried age, seeking its pleasures in a form brief and concentrated, had found satisfaction in the short-story. Playwrights turned by analogy to the dramatized anecdote, mood, or crisis. Already, the popularity of vaudeville, with its disconnected “acts,” had assured attention for little plays to be relished by an audience tired of mere jokes and jugglery. In England, moreover, the curtain-raiser had been devised as an expedient for entertaining those in the pit before the principal drama of an evening could begin, with the arrival in the stalls of the late diners. But not until the opening of the free theatres did the market for one-act plays really thrive. The managers found that laughter, thrills, and tears might be excited at one performance, not by including the comic, the terrible, and the pathetic in a single extensive work, but rather by presenting of an evening three or four pieces, each distinctive in tone and more readily composed and produced. Playwrights, afraid to try their wings in a long flight, were thus tempted to short swallow dips of drama, the Irish in particular gaining self-confidence through such efforts. Certain writers, too, like Strindberg, Schnitzler, and Dunsany, discovered that their talents were peculiarly adapted to this form, with its focusing and foreshortening of effects. The possibility of linking brief pieces in a series was realized by Schnitzler, Sudermann, and others, and certain theatres like the Grand Guignol in Paris and the Princess in New York have made an exclusive specialty of plays in one act. In Spain this form has enjoyed peculiar popularity ever since the Apolo Theatre of Madrid, in 1880, began the practice of giving short pieces of an evening before successive audiences. Dramatists like the Quintero brothers, Rusiñol, Martínez Sierra, and Benavente have helped to render flexible and delicate what was once rough farce; and the two-act play has also been evolved as a special form in the Lara Theatre of Madrid.

Aside from such changes in technic as have just been indicated, the recent drama exhibits new conceptions of tragedy and comedy and of the civic importance of the theatre. As for tragedy, in place of a simple scheme of transgression and retribution, implying a belief in free will and a fixed moral law, the newer dramatist presents man suffering as the result of natural forces operating to check or deflect his will. He is a creature of his race, his milieu, his moment, to use the terms of Taine; a victim of heredity and environment, of the conventions and social institutions which he has devised to serve him, but which fail to keep pace with his progress. As for comedy, instead of depicting manners or exaggerating inconsistencies of character alone, the newer dramatist turns topsy-turvy our accepted codes of conduct, displaying their incongruities, assailing the old, as Aristophanes once assailed the new, wielding the lash of satire upon ideals ostensibly revered but tyrannous because outworn.

In the best comedy and tragedy, therefore, may be felt a deeper purpose, an assumption that the theatre is a force of civic and educational significance. This conception, most fully understood in Germany and France, is meeting recognition elsewhere. Playwrights and the theatre-going public are taking themselves more seriously; the public striving to develop intelligent appreciation through study clubs, university courses, and drama leagues; playwrights striving to deal frankly with the manifold problems and tendencies of the moment. The drama of ideas, cultivated by Ibsen, has been used increasingly as an instrument of social reform. The demand that the theatre, not only reflect the actual, but make us think and feel what is wrong with the conditions of our individual and collective living, has found a response in the art of Tolstoy, Björnson, Hauptmann, Shaw, Galsworthy, Brieux, and a hundred others. That the drama of social intentions may sacrifice æsthetic to didactic values is evident. Nevertheless, it represents a vital development based upon the conviction that art is worthy, not merely in itself, but as an interpretation of life.


No playwright of modern times except Shakespeare has so far determined the stage productions of others as Ibsen. He has influenced the new drama in three directions—toward naturalism, toward intellectualism, and toward symbolism. The naturalists were inspired by his choice of the contemporary and the provincial, by his avoidance of intrigue and the theatric, by his reliance upon discussion, by his emphasis, also, upon heredity and environment as fate. The intellectualists were inspired by his economy of technic, by the skill with which he incorporated ideas with plot and character, by his transferring the crisis from the outer to the inner life, and by his method of unveiling, as the play proceeds, a condition already existent. The symbolists were inspired by Ibsen’s power of supplementing a natural story with allegorical suggestions, chiefly decorative, or of fusing symbolism with realism in his more ambitious plays. It is not too much to say, therefore, that, although Ibsen’s last work had been acted by 1900, and his earlier manifesto pieces seem already a little old-fashioned, he continues a potent factor in determining the dramatic drift of the twentieth century.

Less exclusively a dramatist was Ibsen’s Norwegian compatriot, Björnsterne Björnson, who survived until 1910. He was concerned with concrete issues rather than with abstract doctrines, and his work for the stage was but one activity of a many-sided life. Having forsaken the romantic for the realistic, he wrote plays of honest workmanship, common sense, and kindly humor, one group consisting of family and domestic pieces, another of pieces of social criticism advocating special reforms. His finest achievement was the first part of ‘Beyond Our Power,’ a rational yet reverential study of religious faith and its limitations. Altogether, Björnson is a preacher of the homely, old-fashioned virtues. He is not in thought or technic the prophet of a new dispensation.

The chief point of contact between Björnson and August Strindberg, the Swede, may be found in the distrust of the new woman expressed by both. Strindberg, however, reacts abnormally against the feminist movement in a series of intense and terrible plays which reflect the states of mind of a monomaniac. As one who was subject to violent attractions and repulsions of sex, he suffered misery from three mismatings. His resultant philosophy of love is best expressed by the fantastic ‘Dream Play,’ wherein he conceives of passion as a cosmic force enslaving, not man alone, but the Divine Energy. But even when his subject-matter grows too morbid for universality, Strindberg remains technically significant as a prime-mover in developing sensational naturalism, symbolism, and the art of the one-act play.

The leader of the younger dramatists of Denmark is Hjalmar Bergström. His ‘Ida’s Wedding’ and ‘Karen Borneman’ uphold the rights of the new woman; ‘In the Swim’ depicts political honesty assailed by compromise; and ‘Lynggaard and Company’ arrays against each other the forces of capital and labor. More original is the Icelander, Jóhann Sigurjónsson, whose initial piece, ‘Dr Rung,’ is less characteristic of his talent for displaying the stark emotions of primitive life than the later ‘Hraun Farm,’ ‘Eyvind of the Hills,’ and ‘The Wish.’


In Russia the first impulse toward the development of the new drama issued from Tolstoy, whose ‘Power of Darkness’ became a favorite in the repertory of the Free Theatres. His other plays, with two exceptions, were written toward the end of his career, and with marked didactic purpose. Tolstoy’s genius, like that of Zola, was epic rather than dramatic. His personality, however, was such as to compel attention even when seeking expression through an unfamiliar medium. More novelistic in tendency are the dramas of Anton Chekhov, studies in background and passive character. To express the defeat of human desires and ambitions is his province, and nowhere is he more successful than in ‘The Three Sisters,’ ‘Uncle Vanya,’ and ‘The Cherry Orchard.’ Although his forte lay in reproducing that sense of discouragement amid the commonplace which marks much of Russian literature, he was not without humor, as witness several farces. Maksim Gorky, whose fame, like that of Tolstoy, was won in the realm of fiction, has written one play widely produced, ‘The Night Refuge,’ an exemplar of naturalism at its crudest. In such dramas as ‘The Smug Citizen,’ and ‘Children of the Sun,’ he offers less of conflict and color, and more of the black-and-white etching of middle-class life to be found in Chekhov.

The most original of contemporary Russian dramatists is Leonid Andreyev, who would dispense with action and the representation of manners, developing his conceptions by means of weird and haunting symbols. Thus, ‘The Life of Man’ follows the career of any man, according to the method of the morality plays; ‘The Black Masquers’ is a tragedy of dual personality inspired by Poe and Maeterlinck; ‘To the Stars’ reveals the attitude toward things human and transient of an astronomer accustomed to view life sub specie æternitatis; and ‘Anathema’ is reminiscent of ‘Faust’ and ‘Job,’ the Power of Evil gambling with Destiny for the privilege of testing the soul of a peasant. In certain plays, Andreyev has displayed a vein of satire, his ‘Sabine Women’ referring with Aristophanic humor to the events of 1905 and 1906 in Russia, and his ‘Savva’ thrusting at Nihilism. Here when dealing with facts, he transmutes them by allegory, as in his strange ‘Sorrows of Belgium,’ which seeks to arouse sympathy for a stricken land.

Symbolism on the Russian stage has found a lesser exponent in Feodor Sologub, who writes mystical pieces, graceful and ingenious, though lacking the fiery imagination of Andreyev. More realistic are the few plays of Michael Artzybashev, better known for his erotic novel ‘Sanine.’ In ‘War’ he exhibits the life of a Russian family as affected by the conflict of 1914, the central figure a mild matron of Ephesus who, upon her husband’s return from the front as a cripple, falls into an admirer’s embrace. Men and women must obey their instinct for life, according to Artzybashev, who is Nietzschean in thought, although artistically the heir of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

Hungary, Poland, and Holland

The recent drama of the Magyar, Czech, and Pole is derivative rather than original, and of slight comparative value. The Hungarian Ferenc Molnár has attracted attention by two plays, ‘The Devil,’ which proved the sensation of a season in America, and ‘The Guardsman,’ a comedy played in English under the title ‘Where Ignorance is Bliss.’ In Bohemia, Emil Frida (Jaroslav Vrchlicky) has acquainted his people with the themes and dramaturgy of the Germans and the French in thirty plays, the best known being ‘At the Chasm’ and ‘Night on the Karlstein.’ Peasant dramas in the naturalistic vein have been composed by Subert and Gabriela Preisz, and dramas of the working folk by Simaczek. A strain of romance appears in Jaroslav Kvapil, whose charming idyl ‘The Clouds’ describes the fleeting love affair of an actress and a youth destined for the priesthood. In the Polish theatre a romantic and symbolic tendency may also be observed as a result of the influence of Hauptmann, whose ‘Sunken Bell’ is heard to toll again in Lucyan Rydell’s ‘The Magic Circle.’

In Holland the chief contributor to the new drama is Herman Heijermans, a naturalist affected by German influence. In ‘The Ghetto’ he presents a conflict between Jew and Gentile, and between the older generation and the younger. In ‘The Ship of Good Hope’ he develops a motive from Ibsen’s ‘Pillars of Society,’ and approximates the situation of the stricken mother in Synge’s ‘Riders to the Sea.’ In ‘Ora et Labora,’ not the ocean, but winter is shown as man’s enemy; and in ‘The Coat of Mail’ militarism is assailed from the point of view of the workers who regard it as a tool for the oppression of the poor by the rich. Finally, in ‘All Souls,’ Heijermans satirizes the bigotry that persecutes a village pastor charitable to an outcast woman and her child. Fidelity of observation and a certain fatalism mark all these studies in Dutch genre-painting.


In Germany the rise of naturalism and the succeeding recoil is best seen in the dramas of Gerhart Hauptmann, one of the organizers of the Freie Bühne of Berlin. Such plays as ‘Before Sunrise,’ ‘The Festival of Peace,’ and ‘The Weavers,’ exhibiting the potency of heredity and environment to crush the individual, introduced a new form of art, intended by its photographic reproduction of life to startle thought. In these and other early works Hauptmann showed the suffering induced by misalliance, ambition thwarted, industrial unrest, and the struggle for existence among the lowly. In ‘Hannele,’ he brightened naturalism with imagination by depicting the dream of a child dying in an almshouse; and, after the failure of ‘Florian Geyer,’ resorted to folk-lore and symbolism in the fantastic and beautiful ‘Sunken Bell,’ voicing his discouragement with his former methods, and grappling, also, with the eternal problem of the artist torn between duty and desire for self-expression. But Hauptmann had by no means forsaken naturalism. Like his Heinrich, he was henceforth a creature both of the valley and the mountain-tops. With eyes fixed upon the valley, he wrote his powerful play of peasant psychology, ‘Teamster Henschel,’ and such pieces as ‘Schluck and Jau,’ ‘Michael Kramer,’ ‘The Conflagration,’ ‘Rose Bernd,’ ‘The Rats,’ and ‘The Flight of Gabriel Schilling,’—the last bearing traces of the influence of Strindberg. ‘The Rats’ is of interest, not only as a study of primitive instincts among the folk of the Berlin slums, but as containing Hauptmann’s apology for naturalism: “Before art, as before the law,” says one character, “all men are equal.” At the same time, the dramatist had aspired to the mountain tops in romantic works that include the poetic rendering of legends mediæval or classical; as well as his dream-play ‘Elga,’ and the elaborate symbolic experiment ‘And Pippa Dances,’ inferior in poetic charm and consistency of story to ‘The Sunken Bell,’ yet ingenious in its philosophic implications.

Hermann Sudermann, who made his début in the year of Hauptmann’s first appearance as a dramatist, was not allied with the theorists of naturalism, although employing their methods. Under the influence of Ibsen and Dumas, he showed a respect for intrigue foreign to Hauptmann, as witness ‘Honor,’ ‘Magda,’ and ‘The Joy of Living.’ ‘Magda,’ in particular, has achieved international success, in its portrayal of the conflict between ideals of city and town, of the younger generation and the older. More radically an individualist than Ibsen’s Nora, Magda is a rebel against paternal authority and the notion that marriage is woman’s cure for wounded honor.

In his latest work—‘The Beggar of Syracuse’ and ‘The Praises of Claudian’—he follows the vogue of legendary drama that marks the subsidence of naturalism, just as earlier he obeyed that of the one-act play by linking three such pieces in ‘Morituri’ and four in ‘Roses.’ It is usual in Germany to discount Sudermann’s attainments and to regard him as merely a man of the theatre. But although he lacks Hauptmann’s creative power, and Ibsen’s philosophic creed, he is an artist of no mean talent and an expert painter of manners and character.

The closest analogue to Sudermann is Ludwig Fulda, who has responded even more easily to every gust of fashion. Beginning with satirical comedies in the manner of Heyse, he reacted to naturalism in ‘The Lost Paradise,’ and ‘The Female Slave,’ setting forth a struggle of the classes and the revolt of an oppressed wife. Then, turning to romance, he composed his märchen dramas, ‘The Talisman’—a delightful satire upon the divine right of kings—and the less successful ‘Son of the Caliph.’ Amusing comedies followed, among them ‘Robinson’s Island,’ a forerunner in situation and idea of Barrie’s ‘Admirable Crichton.’ Then, having failed in a verse tragedy ‘Herostrat,’ Fulda tried serious dramas in prose, one-act plays, translations of Ibsen and Rostand, and light comedies such as ‘The Blockhead’ and ‘The Twin Sister.’ In all his work, he has combined fidelity of observation with free fancy, continuing the tradition of Grillparzer. He is an agreeable moralist and a facile poet.

The drift from naturalism toward romanticism may be observed as well in the plays of Carl Hauptmann, Gerhart’s younger brother. Originally a philosopher, he has retained his fondness for the subtleties of soul, whether dealing with peasants or with heroes. Love of the soil and sexual passion are the themes of his dramas of naturalism, ‘Ephraims Breite,’ ‘The Expulsion,’ and ‘Lanky Jule.’ As a romanticist, he has written curious chronicle pieces—‘Moses’ and ‘Napoleon Bonaparte,’—one-act experiments, poetical tales, and a spectral phantasmagoria called ‘War—a Tedeum,’ which in wildness of fancy vies with ‘The Dream Play’ of Strindberg and the symbolic nightmares of Andreyev.

Less artificial than Sudermann, and more intent upon structural consistency than either Carl or Gerhart Hauptmann, is Max Halbe, the West Prussian, who has composed historical dramas, ‘The Conqueror’ and ‘The True Countenance,’ and symbolic comedies, ‘May Day,’ ‘The Island of the Blest,’ and ‘The Blue Mountains,’ concerned with the effect upon the artist of his surroundings. Halbe, however, is at his best only as a naturalist, when he shows with vital power conflicts between fathers and children, as in ‘The Self-made Man’ and ‘The Ice Drift,’ or between brothers, as in ‘The Stream’; or displays the influence upon a family-group of heredity and environment, as in ‘Youth’; or studies the radical woman and her problems, as in ‘Frau Mesick,’ ‘Mother Earth,’ and ‘The Homeless Ones’; or unfolds the attachment of man for his holdings in nature, as in ‘The Ice Drift,’ ‘Mother Earth,’ ‘The Stream,’ and ‘The Rosenhagens.’ Nature, indeed, is often Halbe’s protagonist, his dramas exhibiting men struggling to possess her, or being drawn back to her from other allegiances, or becoming in storm and flood her victims. With keenest insight he lays bare the primitive instincts of those who dwell on the land, revealing peasant character in all its aspects, even the abnormal, as in ‘The Millennium.’ If his persons frequently resort to suicide, or perish in futile contentions with fate, they are stronger than the folk of Hauptmann, and the dramatic crises of their lives are rarely sacrificed, as with him, to a passive naturalism.

Aside from the major writers already named, the contemporary German drama is rich in minor craftsmen distinguished for some special service. Thus Georg Hirschfeld applies naturalist methods to the middle-classes of Berlin, his earlier pieces, ‘At Home,’ ‘The Mothers,’ and ‘Agnes Jordan,’ being superior to those written later, when he turned to comedy and the märchen drama. A tendency to weaken conflicts and to dwell upon resignation rather than will has earned him the title of the German Chekhov. Two Bavarians, Ludwig Thoma and Otto Erich Hartleben, excel in satire, Otto Erich indulging in good-natured fun, as in ‘Angele’ and ‘The Moral Demand,’ or in serious protest, as in ‘Hanne Jagert,’ concerned with feminism, or ‘Farewell to the Regiment’ and ‘The Month of Roses,’ concerned with military honor. More vigorous and bitter is the muse of Ludwig Thoma, who in ‘Morality’ punctures the philistine hypocrisy that would cover a village scandal, and in ‘Magdalena’ the self-righteousness that hounds to death a rustic girl gone astray in the city.

Among the north Germans, Max Dreyer and Otto Ernst are satirical observers of the contemporary, Dreyer producing a score of dramas of which the best known is a study of school life, ‘The Trial Candidate.’ Otto Ernst, an instructor in Hamburg, followed with his more popular ‘Flachsmann as Educator,’ the character sketch of a shallow pedagogue, his servile pupils, his self-important colleagues, and one worthy teacher by way of contrast to the rest. Here and in the ‘Traumulus’ of Holz and Jerschke is nothing of the sentimentalism that has made Meyer-Förster’s ‘Alt Heidelberg’ a favorite at home and abroad. Most remarkable of these north Germans, however, is Frank Wedekind, who anticipated the school dramas of Ernst and Dreyer in his ‘Awakening of Spring,’ a “children’s tragedy” of sex that assails the conspiracy of silence on the part of parents and schoolmasters, but is less valuable for its propaganda than its mixture of realism and romanticism and its representation of the ferment of puberty. That Wedekind is an artist in the sensational rather than a reformer with a mission, his later plays ‘Mine-Haha,’ ‘Hidalla,’ and ‘The Dance of Death’ demonstrate. Like Strindberg, he celebrates love as an instinct imperious, unreasoning, selfish, exhibiting the relations between the sexes as a duel to the finish. Such is the gist of his ‘Tenor,’ ‘Marquis of Keith,’ and Wetterstein trilogy. But in these, as in his more normal ‘Music,’ he does not share the shuddering fear of Strindberg that woman will destroy her rival and mate. Instead, he presents her as ultimately the victim of man, even where, as in the terrible Lulu of his ‘Earth Spirit’ and ‘Box of Pandora,’ she at first is ruthless and triumphant. This double drama indicates to what extremes naturalism may run when unchecked by a sense of form, beauty, morality, or intellectual values.

But naturalism, in the main, has lost its rigor in Germany. Its better features have been absorbed or modified by saner writers for the stage, and a recoil toward romanticism has been registered, even among the naturalists. Thus a family of dream-plays descends from Hauptmann, and of märchen dramas from Drachmann and Fulda. Folk-lore and legends have been felicitously employed by Fritz Lienhard, and historical themes by Ernst von Wildenbruch. The stage-craft of Reinhardt and Craig has contributed also to a dramaturgy poetic in appeal.


In Austria Hugo von Hofmannsthal has turned to legend and fantasy, rejoicing in æsthetic satisfactions of sound, color, and form in the highly decorative and harmonious verse of a dozen dramas, now retelling more ornately the story of Otway’s ‘Venice Preserved,’ and now developing, with modern characterization, motifs from the Greeks, in ‘Electra,’ ‘Œdipus and the Sphinx,’ and ‘Ariadne at Naxos.’

While Austrian romanticism has flourished in the dramatic poems of von Hofmannsthal, Austrian realism has not languished. Philipp Langmann, Marie Eugenie delle Grazie, and Ferdinand Bronner, have debated social issues, and the Tyrolese physician Karl Schönherr has painted the mountaineers’ life with vivid local color. His ‘Faith and Fatherland’ is a tragedy of Lutheran and Catholic antagonisms, and his ‘She Devil’ a tragedy of triangular intrigue, weaving from the actions of only three characters within a peasant’s kitchen a poignant five-act play. A more genial Austrian realist is the eclectic and versatile Hermann Bahr, who chiefly shines when reflecting artistic bohemianism as in ‘The Star,’ ‘The Yellow Nightingale,’ and ‘The Concert,’ the last presenting with humor a musical temperament controlled by the tact and tolerance of its possessor’s wife.

The indulgent spirit of Bahr is that, also, of Arthur Schnitzler, foremost of Austrian dramatists, an Epicurean philosopher whose cynicism is softened by sympathy. Schnitzler loves the illusions of life, but is rarely deceived by them. Youth and passion are for him the sweeter because they lack permanence. A sentimental melancholy broods over his plays, a tenderness toward human frailty. Only on rare occasions, as in ‘Fair Game’ and ‘The Legacy,’ does he even hint at a problem. He is happiest when exhibiting love in transition and retrospect, now tragically as in ‘Light o’ Love,’ now wistfully as in ‘Anatol,’ now ironically as in ‘The Last Masks,’ ‘Literature,’ ‘Living Hours,’ and ‘The Mate,’ now imaginatively as in ‘The Lady with the Dagger,’ and now cynically as in the duologues of his ‘Reigen,’ conversations between ten pairs of lovers who so separate and recombine that only ten persons are required to carry on the story, and the courtesan who began the Roundel closes it. In ‘The Green Cockatoo’ and ‘The Veil of Beatrice’ and the elaborate ‘Young Medardus,’ with its background of Napoleonic history, death is seen as a force of equal potency with love in shaping human fate. If Schnitzler’s ideas be negligible, his art is above reproach, at least in the one-act play. Whatever is gross and formless in naturalism he refines. He is a skillful dramatic impressionist, the sign of whose trade might well read, “Intrigue made beautiful.”


In Italy, the contemporary drama has developed most normally in the plays of Giacosa, Bracco, and Butti, and most sensationally in the plays of Praga and d’Annunzio. Giuseppe Giacosa exhibits in his more than thirty works for the stage the progress of a sane and healthy artist from romanticism to a chastened realism. His first pieces were dramas in verse treating of mediæval times, and comedies, like ‘The Husband in Love with his Wife’ and ‘Late Repentance.’ But, being attracted to the type of social drama developed in France by Augier and in Italy by Paolo Ferrari, he rose, after sundry experiments, to the height of his powers in ‘Hapless Love,’ varying the triangular plot with refreshing sobriety. Though his historical ‘Lady of Challant’ is in his older manner, he returned, in ‘Rights of the Soul,’ to the modern world, seeking to emulate Ibsen. His latest work includes the librettos for Puccini’s operas,—‘La Boheme,’ ‘La Tosca,’ and ‘Madame Butterfly’; and two family studies, ‘The Stronger’ and ‘As the Leaves.’ These stress character and minimize the love interest so usual upon the Italian stage.

The moral preoccupations of Giacosa are to be observed also in Roberto Bracco, who felicitously depicts conflicts between husbands and wives. Although fond of setting them at swords’ points for a little by means of a third person, he prefers, as in ‘Three’ and ‘Countess Coquette,’ a reconciliation after the conflicts are over. His ‘Hidden Spring’ develops, with originality, the theme of Ibsen’s ‘When We Dead Awaken’ and of Hauptmann’s ‘Lonely Lives’; and his ‘Phantasms’ faintly recalls the situation in Hauptmann’s ‘Teamster Henschel.’ Enrico Butti is more didactic in his protest against abuses and his advocacy of certain reforms. Thus, he rallies to the support of religion by assailing the wildness of youth in ‘The Race After Pleasure,’ the skepticism of age in ‘Lucifer,’ the atheistic industrial philosophy in ‘The Tempest,’ and the theory that children deformed should be destroyed by the state in ‘Utopia.’ Such plays, however, are exceptional, passion and beauty, rather than any intellectual reaction upon life, being the favorite aim of Italian dramatists.

Passion is often associated with revenge for injured honor, as in Giovanni Verga’s Sicilian pieces ‘The Fox Hunt’ and the better known ‘Rustic Chivalry,’ Girolamo Rovetta’s ‘The Dishonest,’ and Bracco’s ‘Masqueraders.’ Love in these plays and in those of Marco Praga is a madness that drives its victims out of all consideration of decorum, law, and morality. Woman is not to be discredited for yielding to it; the discredit falls instead upon the husband, father, or brother whose dignity her yielding may compromise. Neurotic and erotic are Praga’s ‘Undine,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ and the ‘Woman,’ although cynical humor tempers his ‘Ideal Wife’ and Bracco’s ‘Triumph,’ and the strength of its unbridled imagination redeems Sem Benelli’s grim tragedy ‘The Supper of Pranks.’

Nowhere, however, is the conception of love as a baneful disease so fully expressed as in the plays of d’Annunzio, hectic with emotion, suffocated by their own sweetly poisonous perfume. Thus, in ‘The Light Under the Bushel,’ a melodrama, a female fiend murders her mistress, marries her master, poisons his son, makes love to his brother, causes the suicide of his daughter, stones her father, and is finally slain by her husband. That which transfigures the brutality of such plays is d’Annunzio’s unerring instinct for beauty,—a beauty, however, descriptive, lyric, and poetic, rather than dramatic. With his ethical notions strangely perverted, and his nerves all a-tingle to abnormal excitations, he nevertheless paints glowing and gorgeous pictures in ‘Francesca da Rimini,’ ‘Fedra,’ ‘The Ship,’ ‘More than Love,’ and ‘The Honeysuckle.’ Among contemporary dramatists he is the chief exponent of the doctrine of art for art’s sake.


In Spain, although the circulation of books is limited, both the lettered and the unlettered attend the theatre. The demand for plays is, therefore, large, and Spanish dramatists, like their predecessors of the Golden Age, are induced to write too much and too easily. Benavente and the Quinteros display the fatal facility of a Lope de Vega; and love, loyalty, jealousy, honor, and the eternal intrigue of the cape and sword comedia are still the playwright’s unfailing resource.

The strongest personality of the generation just deceased was José Echegaray, whose ‘Great Galeoto’ is known the world over. Echegaray was a poet rather than a philosopher, a spinner of plausible dreams rather than a close observer of facts. But his instinct for dramatic situations, his imagination and love of rhetoric were unfailing. The honor theme, developed so subtly in his first important work, ‘Folly or Saintliness,’ and appearing in many others, found its most artificial treatment in ‘Mariana’ and its sanest expression in ‘The Great Galeoto,’ which involves also the larger conception that scandal tends to bring to pass the condition it presupposes. There is fine intensity in his ‘Unbalanced Woman,’ with its heroine suspected of madness by the husband she does not love, and in ‘The Steps of a Throne,’ with that other heroine slaying the tyrant who has tortured the man of her heart. In his later plays, Echegaray betrays the influence of Ibsen, copying the Norwegian’s symbolist dramas in ‘The Mad God,’ and in ‘The Son of Don Juan’ employing the subject-matter of ‘Ghosts,’ although laying no stress upon the social hypocrisy assailed by Ibsen or the false ideal of marriage responsible for the birth of the hero.

The social criticism generally lacking in Echegaray is more often present in the plays of Joaquin Dicenta, whose ‘Aurora’ and ‘Crime of Yesterday’ are fairly realistic, the heroine of the first being a factory worker in love with a scientist, and of the second a woman betrayed, slaying upon principle the man who has refused to give his name to her child. Mild satire may be seen in the works of Linares Rivas, who paints the shortcomings of society piquantly and without bitterness, preoccupied, like Capus in France, with the little infidelities of husbands and wives. More vigorously satirical at times is Jacinto Benavente, who, during the past twenty years, has written seventy dramas. A moralist, he believes in sweetening his sermons with wit, but more and more, under the influence of Ibsen, sets himself to propose ideals to his audience, seeking to free them from hypocrisy and conventional compromise. Thus his ‘Hombrecito’ smiles at the surface morality so popular everywhere, and his ‘Soul Triumphant’ contrasts formal ethics with natural. ‘Autumn Roses,’ a thesis play inspired by the younger Dumas, is based upon the conception that no two people can be united without entailing a reciprocal loss. Usually, however, Benavente’s dramas depend upon no set doctrine, but induce their effects through irony, fancy, or poetic fervor. This is the case with the fantastic ‘Sabbath Night,’ the brilliant ‘Fire Dragon,’ the epilogue of which is one of the most moving scenes of the Spanish theatre, and the playful ‘Bonds of Interest,’ which employs folk of the Italian comedy of masks to weave a pretty plot of love and roguery.

Among the most popular and fecund of contemporary writers for the Spanish stage are the fraternal collaborators, Serafin and Joaquin Álvarez Quintero. Beginning as the makers of brief farces and operettas, they have produced scores of plays, bright, lively, and natural. If there is nothing very original about the Quinteros, there is also nothing morbid. They seek to entertain by holding the mirror up to normal human nature, unconscious of any mission to reform the world. Their avoidance of artificiality, however, constitutes a genuine merit in Spain, where the drama has too often been merely theatrical. With their grace, delicacy, and simplicity, the Quinteros have contributed much to the new realistic movement, without descending to the crudities of naturalism. They have passed by degrees from interest in plot to interest in character. Audiences, which in 1901 were taken aback by the absence of apparent dramaturgy in ‘The Flowers,’ had by 1912 learned how to appreciate an inconsequential but delightful play like ‘Malvaloca.’

As the Quinteros are painters of Andalusian manners, so Angel Guimerá is the depicter of manners in Catalonia. He began as a writer of poetical and romantic dramas, influenced by the French and by Shakespeare. But, responding ere long to the example of Ibsen, he turned to deal in prose with the life of the common people. The drama of ideas is alien to his genius and little cultivated by him except for ‘En Polvorá,’ dealing with the industrial problem, and ‘The Young Queen,’ expounding republican doctrine. Among the most effective of his pieces concerned with common life are ‘Maria Rosa’ and ‘The Sinner,’ the latter popularized abroad by the Sicilian players, the former done into Castilian by Echegaray and thence into English. Guimerá has further written farces, two mediæval dramas, a Biblical play, comedies, and peasant pieces full of fire and feeling, direct and forceful in their avoidance of tricks of the theatre. Best known among these is ‘Marta of the Lowlands,’ which draws a contrast between the instinctive conscience of a beggar-girl emancipated by love from her thraldom to a wicked man, and that master’s assertion of his rights based only on wealth and position.

If Guimerá, as here, shows elemental strength, it is delicacy of sentiment that marks ‘The Cradle Song’ of Gregorio Martínez Sierra, which shows the survival of maternal longings even in the cloister, and ‘The Mystic’ of Santiago Rusiñol, a study of the priestly hero. More radical in his attitude to such themes is Benito Pérez Galdós, who late in his career turned from the novel to the theatre, writing pieces that at first were too wildly romantic; but by the middle ’nineties learning to curb his imagination and employ simple dialogue. Thus, his ‘Will,’ ‘Doña Perfecta,’ and ‘The Wild Beast’ are plausible and natural. They were followed by his greatest success ‘Electra,’ the performance of which in 1901 created a furore. The clerical party frowned upon this work, with its hoyden heroine saved from the scheming of bigoted relatives who would consign her to a convent. Deceived into believing herself the sister of her lover, she is about to renounce him for the veil when warned of the truth by the ghost of her mother, a bit of supernaturalism that interfered with the acceptance of the drama abroad. Much more natural are ‘Soul and Life,’ ‘Mariucha,’ ‘Barbara,’ ‘Love and Science,’ and ‘The Grandfather,’ the last the mellowest drama of its author and one of the best of the Spanish stage. Here the fine old aristocrat, whose faith is fixed in the virtues of blue blood and heredity, learns at last that the base-born may be nobler than the well-born, and that lineage is less than character.


Although the ways of naturalism are alien to the French temperament, the modern drama in France is indebted to the influence of foreign naturalists and to the revolution precipitated at home by the Théâtre Libre of Antoine. A reaction against the well-made play of Scribe and Dumas fils had already set in. Labiche and the collaborators Meilhac and Halévy had abandoned symmetry of structure in comedy; the realistic novel was calling attention to background rather than story, and Henry Becque in such plays as ‘The Parisian Woman’ and ‘The Vultures’ showed the possibilities of reflecting life simply. Hence, in the best French dramas of the new century, naturalism is generally diffused, although restrained by the native desire to present an idea or a situation. As to subject-matter, illicit love continues a favorite theme, its laureates being Donnay, Porto-Riche, Bataille, and Capus.

With Maurice Donnay love is the major consideration in such dramas as ‘Lovers,’ ‘The Grief-Stricken Woman,’ ‘The Escalade,’ and ‘The Clearing.’ Frequently his works depend upon fresh combinations of the mismated husband and wife with a lover, and a mistress, as in ‘Georgette Lemeunier,’ ‘The Torrent,’ and ‘The See-Saw.’ Sometimes he adds a special interest, as in ‘The Return from Jerusalem,’ which links with the triangular plot a conflict between Jew and Gentile. Several of his plays—‘The Emancipated Woman,’ ‘The Women Scouts,’ and ‘Birds of Passage,’ done in collaboration with Lucien Descaves—are concerned with feminism. But Donnay is most successful when freed from a thesis, as in ‘The Other Danger,’ which lays bare the heart of a mother discovering that her daughter is her rival, or in ‘The Ménage of Molière,’ a versified play depicting the conjugal infelicities of the comedian. For Donnay, as for Schnitzler, love is “the greatest thing in the world,” but marriage is a tax upon natural passion imposed by convention.

With less optimism, Georges de Porto-Riche reveals his respect for the grand passion and his fear of it. Love he regards as a power unescapable. Husbands and wives, as in ‘L’Amoureuse,’ may suffer, but they are linked forever by passion. Even the hero of ‘The Old Man,’ who congratulates himself that he has reformed from youthful follies, learns at sight of a pretty face that lack of opportunity alone has rendered him safe; and by his rivalry with his son causes the latter’s death. Love as a pathological condition is studied in ‘The Night Moth’ of Henry Bataille and ‘The Foolish Virgin.’ In the latter, the husband who reciprocates the infatuation of a morbid girl of good family is forgiven by his wife and protected from the girl’s avenging brother; and similarly in ‘Dame Nature’ an artist is exonerated of blame by his wife when he turns from her to a princess. These plays and ‘The Scandal’ failed when acted in English because too exotic in morals to be understood out of France. Nor is ‘The Child of Love’ better adapted for export.

Still more Gallic in tone are the comedies of Alfred Capus, whose every resource is devoted to displaying in lively mood the attractions of sex. For a quarter of a century Capus has charmed pleasure-loving Parisians by his jaunty good nature. His light philosophy of marriage is set forth in ‘The Little Minxes,’ ‘The Two Schools,’ and ‘The Husbands of Léontine.’ As one husband confesses to another, he never seeks temptation, yet he never avoids it. He and his wife are a good couple, separated only by marriage. In ‘Rosine,’ ‘The Little Functionary,’ and ‘The Wounded Bird’ Capus draws his favorite feminine type, the girl of the people dependent upon her own resources, loving as she will, self-poised, humorous, undaunted, a stoical epicurean. Occasionally, as in ‘The Adventurer,’ and ‘The Châtelaine,’ he writes a play of old-fashioned morality or sentiment; but in ‘Monsieur Piégois,’ ‘An Angel,’ and ‘The Beauty Shop’ his frivolous spirits return.

Aside from those who dramatize love exclusively, there are many French playwrights expert as theatrical entertainers, but lacking a serious message. Prominent in the field of comedy are de Flers and Caillavet, who since their first collaboration have produced fifteen plays. Some are sentimental, like ‘The Ass of Buridan,’ ‘Love Watches,’ ‘The Fan,’ and ‘The Beautiful Adventure’; and some are satirical, like ‘The King,’ ‘The Green Coat,’ and ‘The Sacred Wood,’ laughing respectively at republican worship of royalty, at the French Academy, and at zeal for the winning of honors. Other accomplished purveyors of an entertainment slightly more serious are Lemaître, Guinon, Kistemaeckers, and Bernstein.

Jules Lemaître’s occasional plays are written with scrupulous care, from ‘The Rebellious Woman’ in which he betrays Ibsen’s influence, to ‘Forgiveness,’ a piece of three characters only, and ‘The Eldest Daughter,’ depicting the qualms of a sensitive girl at seeing her younger sisters take the suitors she would have preferred. ‘Bertrade’ and ‘The Studio Assistant,’ written in 1905, show Lemaître as mellowed in sympathy and a master of dialogue. Less a craftsman is Albert Guinon, author of ‘Property,’ ‘Decadence,’ ‘The Yoke,’ and ‘His Father,’ who seeks to reflect life gladly and freely, without forcing a thesis, although, in ‘Happiness,’ he develops the notion that love and marriage are for women distinct interests. Situation bulks more largely in the work of the Belgian, Henry Kistemaeckers, who has won approval with such plays as ‘Marthe,’ ‘The Wound,’ ‘The Spy,’ ‘The Merchant of Happiness,’ and ‘Instinct,’ the last contrasting man’s natural brutality with the restraints imposed by civilization, and affirming that at a crisis instinct will rise supreme. The Scribe-Sardou tradition which inspires Kistemaeckers in the final scene of this drama is even more potent with Henry Bernstein, who shapes each of his pieces about some situation warranted to yield a thrill. His personages and philosophy count for little, but his work is effective and much better adapted for foreign consumption than that of the naturalists who deal in sentiments more purely local. Bernstein’s successes include ‘The Detour,’ ‘The Sheepfold,’ ‘The Whirlwind,’ ‘The Claw,’ and ‘Samson.’ Jew-baiting mobs howled down his ‘After-Me’; but ‘The Assault’ and ‘The Secret’ met approval at home and in America, where ‘The Thief’ and ‘Israel’ had earlier been received with favor. In all of these plays a central idea is given concrete illustration, not primarily for the sake of the idea, but rather as the readiest means to produce a series of emotional crises.

For the highest development of a drama of ideas we must turn to Paul Hervieu, a moralist concerned with theoretical rather than applied ethics. Nothing superfluous is left in his pieces, where every action, every speech reinforces one dominant conception. In ‘Words Remain,’ ‘The Nippers,’ and ‘The Law of Man’ may be found typical examples from the ’nineties of a method that is perfected in his later practice. Here and in the more sensational ‘Enigma,’ he develops with geometrical precision such themes as the power of slander to destroy and the power of a social institution like marriage to crush the individual. In ‘The Trail of the Torch’ a problem of conduct is proposed by two characters who defend opposing views. One theory is then stated more concretely by the heroine, who affirms that she loves her mother and her daughter equally, and that she could never sacrifice either to the other. Thereupon, the action unfolds to prove that the contrary is true, since the maternal instinct is stronger than the filial. The curtain falls upon the heroine’s confession, “For my daughter, I have killed my mother.” Such is the method employed by Hervieu in ‘The Labyrinth,’ ‘The Awakening,’ and ‘Know Thyself.’ In the last, questions of honor and divorce are debated; and in the second, a rule of conduct for a wife tempted to infidelity:—Let her but suppose her lover dead, and she will find it easy to live without him. The dangers of divorce and remarriage are pointed in ‘The Labyrinth,’ as in ‘The Cradle’ by Brieux, the thesis of both being that parents who have separated and meet again at the bedside of a sick child will drop back instinctively into their old relations. Twice Hervieu, the logician, departs from his usual manner, once in ‘Théroigne de Méricourt,’ an historical drama, and again in ‘Bagatelle,’ a bright comedy; but he reverts to it in his recent ‘Destiny is Master,’ a tragedy of honor first performed in Spanish. If Hervieu deals with contemporary life in all but one of his dramas, he is nevertheless far removed from the naturalists. In him lives again the classic spirit of Racine and Corneille.

Lavedan, who was first a novelist and a writer of moral dialogues, has retained in his plays the ethical emphasis and a fondness for talk. In the ‘Prince d’Aurec,’ ‘The Two Nobilities,’ and ‘The Marquis of Priola,’ he studies the aristocracy in decline, implying that it can be saved only by accepting what is best in the bourgeoisie. In a group of comedies—‘High Life,’ ‘The Old Sport,’ and ‘The New Game’—he depicts the folk of the boulevards, capturing the very mood and manner of those engaged in the weary quest for pleasure. In ‘The Taste for Vice’ he satirizes those whose relish for wickedness is affectation; and in ‘The Duel’ he presents a wordy discussion of the claims of faith and free thought, rendered dramatic by the rivalry of two brothers, a priest and a physician. In ‘Sire’ he presents an ancient countess, convinced that the son of Louis XVI. survives, and humored in her monomania by an actor, who, inspired by her ideal, sallies out to fight and die in the Revolution of 1848. In ‘Service’ he pits against each other father and son, the latter, who has invented a powerful explosive and doubts the legitimacy of its use, being denounced as a traitor by the former. But their opposition is resolved when war is declared and a brother of the inventor falls.

The ethical interest to be noted in Lavedan is more obvious still in Paul Hyacinthe Loyson. Avoiding the treatment of illicit love for its own sake, Loyson, in ‘The Evangel of Blood,’ ‘The Right of the Virgins,’ and ‘Enemy Souls,’ presents struggles of conscience in a world that has lost its traditional bulwarks of loyalty and faith. A democracy can succeed, he believes, only as its members are fortified by a sense of duty; and in his best-known piece, ‘The Apostle,’ he seeks to prove that such a sense may prevail without the sanctions of revealed religion.

As moralists of the French stage, Loyson and Lavedan must bow, however, to Eugène Brieux, who harangues and argues, throwing the weight of his passion and rhetoric into the scales in behalf of special causes rather than general truths. Thus, he tends to sacrifice art to propaganda, drama to journalism. What he says is not remarkable; the novelty lies in saying it so explicitly and vehemently in a theatre. Occasionally he has composed for the pleasure of it, as in ‘The Brood,’ ‘The Little Friend,’ and ‘The May Beetles.’ Usually, he is happy only in taking sides. Thus, he assails, in ‘Blanchette,’ an education for women that removes them out of their class; in ‘Cog Wheels,’ corruption in politics; in ‘The Philanthropists,’ institutional charity; in ‘The Evasion,’ a faith in heredity that would lead to fatalism; in ‘Racing Results,’ the dangers of betting on horses; in ‘The Three Daughters of M. Dupont,’ woman’s slavery in the marriage of convenience and her greater misery in prostitution and spinsterhood; in ‘The Red Robe,’ defects in the criminal law and its administration; in ‘The French Woman,’ slanders upon the national character incited by yellow-backed novels; and in ‘Damaged Goods,’ the lack of precautions to ensure sexual health as a preliminary to marriage. Only a little less didactic are ‘The Substitutes,’ a tract directed against putting out children to nurse, and ‘Maternity,’ a remarkable attempt to justify birth-control. But if Brieux in ‘The Cradle’ and ‘The Deserter,’ objects to the marriage of those divorced, and to divorce itself in ‘Suzette,’ his theses are not so abstractly formulated as to forfeit all artistic appeal. That appeal may be felt especially in his drama of feminism, ‘Woman Alone,’ and in his skeptic’s confession of faith, ‘Religion.’ The excellent workmanship of the last indicates what Brieux can do with structure when he chooses, as his ‘The Bourgeois in the Fields’ indicates what he can do with characterization. Such a play exhibits the genial realism in which Brieux might have excelled had he not conceived, like his hero, that his mission was to preach reform.

Romanticism appears within the camp of those affected by naturalism chiefly in the plays of François de Curel, a strange, imaginative genius who disdains the commonplace, and deals with unusual souls suffering peculiar stresses and strains. Though his situations and characters are unreal, he wins for them a “temporary suspension of disbelief.” An imaginative fervor and emotional fever are to be felt in such pieces as ‘A False Saint,’ ‘The Fossils,’ ‘The Guest,’ ‘The Repast of the Lion,’ ‘The Figurante,’ and ‘The New Idol,’ the last concerned with a physician who, experimenting upon a tubercular girl, sees her recover from this disease after he has inoculated her with cancer, and though himself fatally infected, learns peace from her simple faith. The romantic idealism of these plays is supplemented by romantic sensationalism in ‘The Wild Girl,’ ‘The Beat of the Wing,’ and ‘The Dance Before the Mirror.’ Curel is at best only a qualified romanticist, working with facts in a possible world, but too individual in his predilection for the abnormal to appeal to a popular audience.

Edmond Rostand, however, although he stands apart from the dramatic development as determined by naturalism, possesses the qualities to win general approval. In ‘Cyrano’ he displayed an ingenuity in devising surprises, a cleverness in linking effective situations, a vivacity of fanciful humor, and an imaginative verve to kindle admiration for his seventeenth-century poet and gallant cursed with a gigantic nose. Although the play was of the same tinsel brocade as ‘Hernani’ and ‘Ruy Blas,’ Rostand so freshened it that he made what was tarnished glitter. In ‘L’Aiglon,’ historical romance idealizes the situation of Napoleon’s son, a captive at the court of Vienna, yearning to emulate his father’s achievements, but ordained to die early as victim of a fate compounded of environment and heredity. He succumbs in a lachrymose scene of prearranged pathos, after five brilliant acts of melodramatic intrigue, contrast, and coincidence. ‘Chantecler’ followed after a decade, its dramatized fable a tour de force rendered attractive by elaborate scenic production, Rostand resorting to hide and feathers in quest for picturesque costume. Again the wit and the virtuosity of the poet were exhibited in the scintillating lines no less than in the central conception of an egoist who believes that his self-appointed task keeps the universe running. The play soars to lyric beauty or drops to quips in argot, and style, satire, and spectacle usurp the place of drama.

Much more prolific than Rostand is his fellow romanticist, the Belgian poet, Maurice Maeterlinck, who, in his dramas for marionettes, embodies the dreams of a frightened child shivering at unknown presences as he wanders through shadowy forests or down the gloomy corridors of moldering castles. Insanity, conspiracy, murder; a sense of descending doom; impressionistic backgrounds; dialogue naïve and repetitious to the point of inanity:—such are the elements from which Maeterlinck contrives his peculiar effects. In some of his plays the approach of death is more quietly considered; in ‘Home’ and ‘The Intruder’ with admirable restraint; in ‘The Seven Princesses’ with decorative symbolism; and again, with a philosophic symbolism that tempts yet teases the understanding, in that masterpiece of sculpturesque allegory, ‘The Blind.’ Two longer, tenuous tragedies of the imagination—‘Pélléas and Mélisande’ and ‘Aglavaine and Sélysette’—vary the triangular plot. In ‘Joyzelle’ Maeterlinck levies upon Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest,’ thinning the piece but retaining the test of love as a central feature. In ‘Monna Vanna’ he employs the crucial situation of ‘Joyzelle,’ and presents actual characters in the round, laying aside his usual suppressions and repetitions of speech, and enhancing the dramatic values. Similar treatment marks his ‘Mary Magdalen,’ in which the heroine’s dilemma resembles that of Vanna and Joyzelle. ‘Ariane and Barbe Bleue’ and ‘Sister Beatrice,’ librettos of no dramatic significance; ‘The Miracle of Saint Anthony,’ an ironic comedy in the style of Synge; and ‘The Blue Bird,’ a spectacular allegory of the quest for happiness, diversify and complete Maeterlinck’s contribution to the theatre. Consistently a romanticist, he has, like Rostand, opposed the main drift of the modern dramatic movement; and of the countercurrent he is the most distinguished representative.


The British drama of the twentieth century rests upon foundations earlier laid for it by Wilde, Jones, and Pinero. Wilde, as one of the ablest writers of artificial comedy since Congreve, influenced the mood and talk of such successors as Barker, Shaw, and Hankin, but produced too little to do more than deflect the dramatic drift in its lighter manifestations.

Jones and Pinero, however, have contributed copiously to the theatre, responding to conventional French fashions and popular farce and melodrama, then striving for something better, and finding inspiration in the work of Ibsen. Although Jones was the first to adapt an Ibsen play to English uses, he has never quite forgotten his earlier manner. Even in a piece of literary pretensions like ‘Michael and his Lost Angel,’ there remains an emotion verging on the mawkish, and artificialities in language and turns of the plot. The device of a public confession of sin which figures here and in ‘Saints and Sinners’ and ‘Judah’ affords him an opportunity for employing sounding rhetoric in a stagey situation, as does the scene of public inquiry, managed adroitly in ‘Mrs. Dane’s Defense,’ ‘The Hypocrites,’ and ‘Cock o’ the Walk.’ Jones is self-consciously moral, although inclined to deal farcically with social insincerity, as in ‘The Triumph of the Philistines,’ ‘The Crusaders,’ and ‘Whitewashing Julia.’ His rule of life is common sense and faith in the ideal. When he touches a theme developed with radicalism by a Continental playwright, it is kept to conservative lines, as witness his ‘Joseph Entangled’ and ‘The Case of Rebellious Susan,’ the first dealing with the power of scandal, and the second with feminism. As a rule, Jones is interested in the reform of the individual soul rather than that of an institution; but many of his plays have no special purpose aside from telling a story. In these he is satisfied to develop character just enough for the purpose of the moment, to mingle comedy and pathos in pleasant proportions, and to write a dialogue never so witty as Wilde’s nor so natural as Galsworthy’s, yet excellent talk of the stage. In his latest efforts he maintains his reputation for craftsmanship but offers little that is new. ‘We Can’t Be as Bad as All That’ repeats a situation developed more ably in ‘Mrs. Dane’s Defense’; ‘Mary Goes First’ twines gossamer threads of intrigue to satirize place-hunting in the days of James First; ‘The Lie’ bespeaks sympathy for a heroine falsely supposed to be mother to the child of one whose disgrace she has sought to avert; and ‘Cock o’ the Walk’ is a cheerful character study of an impecunious actor.

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, who has written forty plays, learned his trade, like Jones, by experiments in farce and melodrama. He turned serious in his coincidental and lachrymose ‘Profligate,’ and after the Dickensian ‘Lady Bountiful,’ rose to his highest achievement in ‘The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,’ simple, austere, restrained, admirable in structure, characterization, and style. The influence of Ibsen appeared more strongly in ‘The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith,’ a study of another unconventional union. Then, having pointed the folly of divorce, in ‘The Benefit of the Doubt,’ Pinero proceeded to compose between 1905 and 1909 that series of earnest dramas upon which, together with ‘Mrs. Tanqueray,’ his position will chiefly depend. ‘Iris’ unfolds the character and fate of a pleasure-loving Manon, who lacks the moral fibre to withstand temptation. ‘Letty’ stresses the folly of defying marital conventions. ‘His House in Order’ asks sympathy for a vivacious second wife oppressed by the reputation and the relatives of the first. ‘The Thunderbolt’ makes use of a lost will as an excuse for exhibiting a vividly conceived family group. ‘Mid-Channel’ offers a masterly study of a married couple who drift apart in the boredom of selfish middle-age.

In the meantime, Pinero had proved his versatility by producing such comedies as ‘Trelawney of the Wells’ and the smart, though over-rated, ‘Gay Lord Quex’; but in attempting to continue the vein he descended to inanity in ‘A Wife Without a Smile,’ and of late in ‘Preserving Mr. Panmure,’ ‘The “Mind-the-Paint” Girl,’ and ‘The Widow of Wasdale Head,’ has failed to show further progress. Although inferior to Ibsen and Hauptmann, Pinero at his best may rank with Björnson, Sudermann, and Hervieu. His technical skill and his knowledge of character are unquestioned, and latterly he has conquered the temptation to pose and to prate to which Jones so often succumbs.

A realistic and a satirical reaction against the romantic falsity of a Jones may be noted in the dramas of Galsworthy and Shaw. John Galsworthy is at his best when facing the anomalies of our social system, expounding in ‘The Silver Box’ the difference in legal treatment accorded the rich and the poor, in ‘Justice’ the inadequacy of the law to deal with the morally weak, in ‘Strife’ the tragedy involved when strong men contend as representatives of capital and labor, and in ‘The Pigeon’ the futility of attempting by institutional means to reform the improvident. Sometimes, as in ‘The Mob,’ he takes sides, deploring the death of a pacifist at the hands of those infatuated with militarism. As a rule, he succeeds by his cool impartiality. Latterly, in ‘The Eldest Son,’ ‘The Fugitive,’ and ‘A Bit o’ Love,’ he has bestowed greater attention upon character, passing from a discussion of social dilemmas to the consideration of personal problems involving passion and woman’s new freedom. As a dramatist, he is sane, self-poised, observant, disdainful of sham, respectful of truth, and at least in ‘The Pigeon’ wisely humorous.

The satirical reaction against sentimentality on the stage is best seen in George Bernard Shaw. Yearning for the real as opposed to the romantic, he cares little for verisimilitude. Rather, he would redeem the soul from its emotional illusions by provoking laughter at our false ideals invented to cloak pride, lust, and avarice, pretensions to virtue with which we are solemnly deceived. Amid his buffoonery, the voice of the Puritan preacher rings loud. Having, in his earlier plays, made merry over our bookish conceptions of the warrior and the historical hero, our assumption of revenge as duty, and the self-justification of a procuress and the owner of slum tenements, and having in ‘The Philanderer’ and ‘Candida’ burlesqued those who profess the Ibsenite theory of marriage, he produced in ‘Man and Superman’ the piece which of all others is richest in his peculiar philosophy. Here appears his doctrine that earth is the place of the slaves of reality, heaven of the masters of reality, and hell of the slaves of romantic illusion. Here is set forth, also, his notion of woman the pursuer and man the pursued, both victims of the Life Force which is striving to produce a being yet higher than man. More definite satire upon the Irish and the English and upon the medical profession marks ‘John Bull’s Other Island’ and ‘The Doctor’s Dilemma.’ In ‘Major Barbara’ is less genially considered the problem of the acceptance of tainted money by public charities, and the egoism in disguise of religionists contrasting with the egoism confessed of the munitions-maker. In ‘The Shewing-up of Blanco Posnet’ a distinction is drawn between acting from right impulse and acting according to code, and in ‘Getting Married’ our conceptions of love, marriage, and divorce are debated. Here discussion usurps the place of action, and although something of dramatic form remains in ‘Fanny’s First Play,’ ‘Androcles and the Lion,’ and ‘Pygmalion,’ most of Shaw’s succeeding work is talk, and his later pieces are as ephemeral as fireworks. Recognized at last as the licensed jester of the stage, with his every impish saying assured an eager hearing, he has grown smartly careless. But he deserves credit for having, more than any other, broken the stiff molds of British tradition.

In the few pieces that Granville Barker’s managerial duties have allowed him to write, may be detected the Shavian accent. Crackling wit and rattling epigram mark ‘The Marrying of Ann Leete.’ More mature is ‘The Voysey Inheritance,’ the study of a family and a problem. The son who finds his father dishonest abandons formulas for conduct and treats this case as a special instance. The tyranny of sex is Barker’s theme in ‘Waste,’ and ‘The Madras House,’ the first representing the downfall of a politician as the result of a moment’s passion; the second smiling at the contortions of polite society as it endeavors to cloak its instincts. Much slighter is the fantasy ‘Prunella’ and a farce ‘The Morris Dance.’ In general, Barker employs the new rotary technic, attaining unity of theme rather than of plot.

Sir James Barrie is imaginative, original, delicately sentimental and humorous, never the dramatist of problem or passion. He possesses rare insight into the odd corners of character, and all the graces of an alert, poetic, finely-tempered nature. His ‘Peter Pan’ is the best beloved of children’s plays. ‘What Every Woman Knows’ reveals his skill in depicting human nature, with its laughter-loving heroine, her three brothers, and her serious lover, who, believing himself too good for her, is in fact the creature of her making. ‘Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire’ pokes fun at all the hackneyed business of “the eternal triangle,” and ‘The Admirable Crichton’ provides a genial satire upon class distinctions unrelated to natural ability, delightfully combining philosophy, fancy, and humor. In Barrie’s later experiments in the one-act-form and his light romances may often be heard a note more strident, as in ‘Half an Hour,’ ‘The Twelve Pound Look,’ ‘The Will,’ and ‘The Legend of Leonora.’ But the Barrie of kindly sentiment reappears in ‘Pantaloon,’ ‘Rosalind,’ and ‘A Kiss for Cinderella,’ the last a joyous ‘Hannele,’ pretty, witty, tender, and undramatic.

Of lesser writers for the stage most have followed in the footsteps of those already mentioned. Sydney Grundy and Alfred Sutro began by adapting French plays and have produced original works in the manner of Jones, both being conservative in technic and ideas. Israel Zangwill and Charles Rann Kennedy have affected the drama of rhetoric and moral intention; C. Haddon Chambers has caught the style of Pinero at his second best; Hubert Henry Davies has echoed the manner of Barrie, as has Graham Moffat in ‘Bunty Pulls the Strings.’ St. John Hankin has been inspired by Wilde in his lively comedies—‘The Two Mr. Wetherbys,’ ‘The Return of the Prodigal,’ ‘The Charity that Began at Home,’ and ‘The Cassilis Engagement’—and by Wilde and Sudermann in his serious piece ‘The Last of the DeMullins.’

A naturalistic group comprises the writers of certain single plays of power—J. O. Francis, Githa Sowerby, Elizabeth Baker, and Stanley Houghton, whose ‘Hindle Wakes’ provides a striking study of homely character and an original contribution to the discussion of honor on the stage. Naturalism is diluted with the sensational by John Masefield, his ‘Tragedy of Nan’ displaying that “delighted brooding on excessive terrible things” which he notes as absent in the dramas of his rivals; but in ‘The Tragedy of Pompey the Great’ and ‘Philip the King,’ he turns from naturalism to poetry, though less effectively than Tagore in India or Yeats in Ireland.

In England, indeed, the only notable success in the field of poetic drama has been attained by Stephen Phillips, who found it difficult, however, to divide his attention between what was stirring in deed and beautiful in expression. ‘Paolo and Francesca’ best preserves the balance between the dramaturgic and the poetic. Its reworking of a much-used story is well-calculated in motive, restrained in feeling, fresh in its invention of character, and as movingly simple in diction as the tragedies of Otway. In ‘Herod’ and ‘Nero,’ however, the dramatic is replaced by lyric outbursts of passion, splendidly intense at times, yet at others merely rhetorical. In ‘Ulysses’ the element of spectacle predominates. If ‘The Sin of David’ is superior as a play, it is not sufficiently distinguished in situation, character, or idea to compensate for its lack of poetic fervor. In his last work the decline of Phillips is only too evident. He has not developed in understanding of human nature or interest in effective intrigue, and, although his verse is never insignificant, it seems but faintly to echo his earlier performance.


The plays of the Irish are to be associated with the poetic strain in the development of the recent English drama. If they seem in part designed to mirror the life of the peasantry, they are all endowed with a freshness of vision and speech, and a freedom of imagination that takes them out of the realm of naturalism. William Butler Yeats, in his first dramatic pieces, expresses that Celtic yearning which can eventuate in nothing dramatic. He refines upon Irish legends with greater effectiveness, and in ‘Kathleen ni Houlihan’ and ‘The Hour Glass’ invents charming allegories. He adapts the tenets of mysticism to stage representation in ‘Where There is Nothing,’ but only in one trifling farce does he attempt to picture the external aspects of life.

Lady Augusta Gregory is more observant of character, stronger in the sense of fun and reality, more robustly human. Like Yeats, she has composed little allegories and legendary plays. She has also written one or two pieces of pathos; but her province is comedy. Sometimes, she links it with folk history, transferring her scene to the past, and extending her play beyond the limits of the single act in which she is most expert. As a rule, she is content to develop very briefly some whimsical idea, using two or three persons for the purpose. Her language is a fair transcription of the speech of peasants and villagers unspoiled by familiarity with conventional English usage.

Far more distinguished in style are the dramas of John Millington Synge, who has preserved the essence of poetry lingering in the prose spoken by natives of the Aran Islands. In ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’ the decorative phraseology, the lust of life in the open, and the Celtic wistfulness are admirable. Such qualities appear concentrated in ‘Riders to the Sea,’ a little masterpiece of poignant pathos, showing the foreboding and ultimate relief of a mother destined to give all her sons to the insatiable enemy. Satire and impish irony by no means dispel the poetic atmosphere of Synge’s four comedies, Borrovian sketches of vagabond character focused about farcical incidents. Most ambitious is ‘The Playboy of the Western World,’ a delicious extravaganza thrusting at the cowardice which, being admired, grows brave. The story is adroit in its turns, and the dialogue inimitably humorous. Over all lies the glamor of poetry, rarely combined, as here, with outlaw wit and rollicking fun.

The romanticism of the major Irish playwrights finds a counterfoil in the realism of a group of lesser dramatists, Mayne, Robinson, Murray, and Ervine, marked by greater intensity of emotion and a sharper clash of motives. In such a fraternal tragedy as Murray’s ‘The Birthright’ we are at a far remove from the wistful fancies of a Yeats or the quaint and rare creations of a Synge. The strain of romanticism and the allurement of style here lacking, but pronounced in the work of the major Irish dramatists, reappears in the plays of Lord Dunsany, whose apologue of disillusion ‘The Glittering Gate’ was composed for the Abbey Theatre. There and in ‘A Night at an Inn’ and ‘The Lost Silk Hat’ the romantic mingles with the realistic and ironic, but irony combines with romanticism alone in ‘The Gods of the Mountain’ and ‘The Golden Doom.’ The poetic skepticism of these pieces suggests the influence of Synge, and their symbolism that of Andreyev; but in ‘King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior’ and ‘The Queen’s Enemies’ the mood and manner are rather those of Maeterlinck. Like the best of the Irish dramas, Dunsany’s are brief and episodic. Their symbolism is incidental, not deliberate.

United States

The contemporary drama in America has at length escaped from the leading strings of Europe. In the theatre of Bronson Howard may be seen the transition from the rhetorical entertainment of a Dion Boucicault to the play that dispenses with outworn conventions, simplifies its technic, and finds inspiration in native sources. Howard, like his lesser colleagues, was at first affected by French fashions; but in his later successes he asserted his originality to good purpose. If a little too sensational or sentimental, he was yet veracious in the main, and humorous. Humor, sentiment, and observation were combined, also, in the crude but effective entertainments of Harrigan and Hart and Charles E. Hoyt, and with far greater skill in the dramas of James A. Herne, whose ‘Shore Acres’ and ‘Sag Harbor’ are in the tradition of Denman Thompson’s ‘Old Homestead,’ but simpler, stronger, more sincere. In his acting as in his writing, Herne was the most genuine of realists.

Like Thompson and Herne, Augustus Thomas has made local color a point of departure for his plot in such plays as ‘Alabama,’ ‘In Mizzoura,’ ‘The Hoosier Doctor,’ ‘Arizona,’ and ‘Colorado.’ Thomas is versatile in accomplishment, stimulating in ideas, less concerned with the analysis of character than with its consistency, and the appropriate functioning of each in a general scheme. In precept and by example, he has commended the potency of deed and gesture apart from word. Of the score of plays that have come from his pen since 1890, some are semi-farcical, some are light legitimate comedy, like ‘Mrs. Leffingwell’s Boots,’ and several are serious dramas, the best being ‘The Witching Hour’ and ‘As a Man Thinks.’ These and ‘The Harvest Moon’ rely in part upon a belief in mental telepathy, and show their maker’s theory that the theatre should visualize notions “at the time in the public mind.”

Clyde Fitch, the writer of some forty pieces and a dozen adaptations, had no philosophy to impart, but his instinct for the dramatic, the picturesque, the amusing, and the locally characteristic was unerring. He had the historic imagination and the feeling for character to breathe life into historical personages and periods, as in ‘Beau Brummell,’ ‘His Grace de Grammont,’ and ‘Barbara Frietchie.’ He might draw now and then from the German, or more frequently from the French, but he was most happy in describing his countrymen either abroad or at home. It was above all the New Yorker in his habitat that Fitch delighted to portray, the metropolitan now of an earlier period, as in ‘Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines,’ and now of the present, as in ‘The Climbers,’ ‘The Truth,’ and ‘The City.’

William Gillette has written some sixteen pieces exploiting native material, the best being his Civil War dramas, the most popular his ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ and the most amusing his farce comedies. He is a careful craftsman, and a master of theatric device and of rapid-fire dialogue, more intent upon plot than upon character, but agreeable in his avoidance of the sentimental. More expert as a technician is David Belasco, who has produced singly and in collaboration a remarkable series of stage successes. Of his own work the best example is ‘The Return of Peter Grimm.’ To these plays, as to those that he has merely staged, Belasco has applied extraordinary skill in the arts of decoration, atmosphere, and lighting, carrying the mechanism of the theatre to the highest point of calculated illusion. His influence has largely molded his associates, Warfield, Ditrichstein, De Mille, and Klein. The pieces of Charles Klein in particular are devised with an exact knowledge of just what settings, situations, words, and actions will keep the waves of emotion surging in the hearts of an eager audience. Truth is not their first consideration, although they reflect outward aspects of the city that are readily recognizable. His most agreeable play is ‘The Music Master,’ his play of greatest strength and promise is ‘The Lion and the Mouse.’ Something of Klein’s manner may be noted also in George Broadhurst’s study of political storm and stress, ‘The Man of the Hour,’ and of marital adjustment, ‘Bought and Paid For.’

Richer in promise, although cut from the same cloth, are the dramas of Eugene Walter. Of these, ‘Paid in Full,’ ‘The Easiest Way,’ and ‘Fine Feathers’ are the best. With journalistic as well as theatric sense, Walter finds his subjects close at home, and treats them with a directness that is violent and unliterary. Zest in reproducing, however crudely, the form and pressure of the time may be observed, also, in the plays of Edward Sheldon, who, at twenty-two, took the public by storm with his vivid and vigorous representation of counter-currents in the city slums, ‘Salvation Nell.’ ‘The Nigger’ was more ambitious in its endeavor to exhibit racial antagonisms in the South. Sheldon’s later works—among them ‘The Boss,’ ‘The Song of Songs,’ and ‘Romance’—have scarcely realized the expectations aroused by these first efforts.

William Vaughn Moody will be remembered for a single play, ‘The Great Divide,’ a fortunate study of contrasts between two civilizations and codes of conduct. Admirable in conception, setting, and language, it suffers in execution from anti-climax and a psychology not thoroughly established. In ‘The Faith Healer,’ Moody endeavored to suggest the potency of love to restore faith and of faith to restore health, dealing with problems already considered in a spirit more skeptical by Björnson; but his ideal is one better suited to exposition in a novel than a play. His poetic imagination, yoked with realism in these two dramas, was given free rein in a metrical trilogy. But for the versified play adapted to theatrical performance, one must look to ‘The Piper’ of Mrs. Lionel Marks. Though given wide currency, its flagging movement after the first act, and its substitution for the dramatic of pictorial, lyrical, and spiritual appeal, could ensure it no continued run.

Another aspirant for poetic honors upon the stage is Percy MacKaye. His interest in theatrical reform has found expression in critical essays and experiments in pageantry, the most elaborate being ‘Caliban by the Yellow Sands.’ His delight in spectacle was earlier evidenced in ‘The Canterbury Pilgrims,’ and his poetic gifts in ‘Fenris the Wolf,’ ‘Jeanne d’Arc,’ and ‘Sappho and Phaon.’ In ‘Mater’ and ‘Anti-Matrimony’ appears a vein of satiric humor which turns to joyous fantasy in ‘A Thousand Years Ago.’ ‘To-morrow’ has more of substance, but it is less characteristic than his ‘Yankee Fantasies’ and ‘The Scarecrow,’ the last a clever adaptation of a tale by Hawthorne.

If American playwrights are frequently deficient in characterization, plot construction, and natural dialogue, they exhibit gifts of invention and observation, and a steady growth in interpretative power. Their work cannot as yet rank with that of the writers in France, Germany, and England; but it is rooted to the soil and increasingly vital and significant.

EDITORIAL NOTE.—Of the dramatists referred to in Professor Chandler’s essay, the chief are discussed at length in individual articles in the LIBRARY. Critical essays and selections will be found for the following:—Scandinavia: Björnson, Ibsen, and Strindberg; Russia: Andreyev, Chekhov, and Tolstoy; Germany: Hauptmann, Sudermann; Austria: Schnitzler; Italy: d’Annunzio, Verga; Spain: Echegaray, Galdoz; France: Brieux, Rostand, Maeterlinck; England: Barrie, Galsworthy, Shaw, Wilde; Ireland: Synge, Yeats; and see also the essay on the Irish Renaissance; United States: MacKaye, Moody.

For further guide to reading and study in contemporary drama, the reader may be referred to the section of the Reader’s Study Courses, of the Library, on Twentieth Century Drama.