Less than immortel

From the British Medical Journal (subscription required):
How immortal is literary immortality? The members of the Académie Française, always 40 in number, are called les immortels, but it is clear that many of them are forgotten within a few years of their death, and some sooner than that.
In his preface to Three Plays by Brieux, Bernard Shaw calls Eugène Brieux (1858-1932) the greatest French playwright since Molière, the equal if not the superior to Sophocles; but, so far at least, history has not agreed with him. Though Brieux was elected to the ranks of les immortels, his plays are now never performed.
A look at his most famous play, Damaged Goods, offers a reason:
Throughout the play, the doctor sermonises at length with a moral certitude that irritates. For example, he advocates compulsory premarital testing for syphilis as if the audience were a legislature in the midst of debate:
It would soon become the custom for a man who proposed for a girl’s hand to add to the other things for which he is asked a medical statement of bodily fitness, which would make it certain that he did not bring this plague into the family with him.
Whether this be good sense or not (the state of Mississippi still requires a blood test before the granting of a marriage licence), it is not good drama. Policy proposals and plays do not consort well.

5 thoughts on “Less than immortel

  1. WoarBoarBoar



    TD appears in this video debating the War on Drugs. V good bit between Russell Brand and Peter Hitchens.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *