The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

By Emma Goldman (1914)

Entry 575


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Untitled Anarchism The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

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(1869 - 1940)

Russian-American Mother of Anarcho-Communism

: She is an Anarchist, pure and simple. She represents the idea of Anarchism as framed by Josiah Warren, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy. Yet she also understands the psychologic causes which induce a Caserio, a Vaillant, a Bresci, a Berkman, or a Czolgosz to commit deeds of violence. (From: Hippolyte Havel Bio.)
• " requires less mental effort to condemn than to think." (From: "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For," by Emma Go....)
• "Each child responds differently to his environment. Some become rebels, refusing to be dazzled by social superstitions. They are outraged by every injustice perpetrated upon them or upon others. They grow ever more sensitive to the suffering round them and the restriction registering every convention and taboo imposed upon them." (From: "Was My Life Worth Living?" by Emma Goldman, secti....)
• "...slavery of any kind, compulsion under any form, must break down, and from which freedom, full and unlimited freedom, for all and from all must come." (From: "Anarchy Defended By Anarchists," by Emma Goldman ....)


41 Chapters | 72,839 Words | 434,293 Characters

In order to understand the social and dynamic significance of modern dramatic art it is necessary, I believe, to ascertain the difference between the functions of art for art's sake and art as the mirror of life. Art for art's sake presupposes an attitude of aloofness on the part of the artist toward the complex struggle of life: he must rise above the ebb and tide of life. He is to be merely an artistic conjurer of beautiful forms, a creator of pure fancy. That is not the attitude of modern art, which is preeminently the reflex, the mirror of life. The artist being a part of life cannot detach himself from the events and occurrences that pass panorama-like before his eyes, impressing themselves upon his emotional and intellect... (From: University of Berkeley.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA In a letter to George Brandes, shortly after the Paris Commune, Henrik Ibsen wrote concerning the State and political liberty: "The State is the curse of the individual. How has the national strength of Prussia been purchased? By the sinking of the individual in a political and geographical formula. . . . The State must go! That will be a revolution which will find me on its side. Undermine the idea of the State, set up in its place spontaneous action, and the idea that spiritual relationship is the only thing that makes for unity, and you will start the elements of a liberty which will be something worth possessing." The State was not the only bête noire of Henrik Ibsen. Every other institution whic... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: HENRIK IBSEN THE PILLARS OF SOCIETY The disintegrating effect of the Social Lie, of Duty, as an imposition and outrage, and of the spirit of Provincialism, as a stifling factor, are brought out with dynamic force in "The Pillars of Society." Consul Bernick, driven by the conception of his duty toward the House of Bernick, begins his career with a terrible lie. He sells his love for Lona Hessel in return for the large dowry of her step-sister Betty, whom he does not love. To forget his treachery, he enters into a clandestine relationship with an actress of the town. When surprised in her room by the drunken husband, young Bernick jumps out of the window, and then graciously accepts the offer of his bos... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: HENRIK IBSEN A DOLL'S HOUSE In "A Doll's House" Ibsen returns to the subject so vital to him,--the Social Lie and Duty,--this time as manifesting themselves in the sacred institution of the home and in the position of woman in her gilded cage. Nora is the beloved, adored wife of Torvald Helmer. He is an admirable man, rigidly honest, of high moral ideals, and passionately devoted to his wife and children. In short, a good man and an enviable husband. Almost every mother would be proud of such a match for her daughter, and the latter would consider herself fortunate to become the wife of such a man. Nora, too, considers herself fortunate. Indeed, she worships her husband, believes in him implicitly,... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: HENRIK IBSEN GHOSTS The social and revolutionary significance of Henrik Ibsen is brought out with even greater force in "Ghosts" than in his preceding works. Not only does this pioneer of modern dramatic art undermine in "Ghosts" the Social Lie and the paralyzing effect of Duty, but the uselessness and evil of Sacrifice, the dreary Lack of Joy and of Purpose in Work are brought to light as most pernicious and destructive elements in life. Mrs. Alving, having made what her family called a most admirable match, discovers shortly after her marriage that her husband is a drunkard and a roué. In her despair she flees to her young friend, the divinity student Manders. But he, preparing to save souls... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: HENRIK IBSEN AN ENEMY OF SOCIETY Dr. Thomas Stockmann is called to the position of medical adviser to the management of the "Baths," the main resource of his native town. A sincere man of high ideals, Dr. Stockmann returns home after an absence of many years, full of the spirit of enterprise and progressive innovation. For as he says to his brother Peter, the town Burgomaster, "I am so glad and content. I feel so unspeakably happy in the midst of all this growing, germinating life. After all, what a glorious time we do live in. It is as if a new world were springing up around us." Burgomaster. Do you really think so? Dr. Stockmann. Well, of course, you can't see this as clearly as I do. You've spe... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: AUGUST STRINDBERG "THE reproach was leveled against my tragedy, 'The Father' that it was so sad, as though one wanted merry tragedies. People clamor for the joy of life, and the theatrical managers order farces, as though the joy of life consisted in being foolish, and in describing people as if they were each and all afflicted with St. Vitus's dance or idiocy. I find the joy of life in the powerful, cruel struggle of life, and my enjoyment in discovering something, in learning something." The passionate desire to discover something, to learn something, has made of August Strindberg a keen dissector of souls. Above all, of his own soul. Surely there is no figure in contemporary literature, outside of Tolstoy,... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: AUGUST STRINDBERG THE FATHER The Father portrays the tragedy of a man and a woman struggling for the possession of their child. The father, a cavalry captain, is intellectual, a freethinker, a man of ideas. His wife is narrow, selfish, and unscrupulous in her methods when her antagonism is wakened. Other members of the family are the wife's mother, a Spiritualist, and the Captain's old nurse, Margret, ignorant and superstitious. The father feels that the child would be poisoned in such an atmosphere: The Captain. This house is full of women who all want to have their say about my child. My mother-inlaw wants to make a Spiritualist of her. Laura wants her to be an artist; the governess wants her to be a Methodist... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: AUGUST STRINDBERG COUNTESS JULIE In his masterly preface to this play, August Strindberg writes: "The fact that my tragedy makes a sad impression on many is the fault of the many. When we become strong, as were the first French revolutionaries, it will make an exclusively pleasant and cheerful impression to see the royal parks cleared of rotting, superannuated trees which have too long stood in the way of others with equal right to vegetate their full lifetime; it will make a good impression in the same sense as does the sight of the death of an incurable." What a wealth of revolutionary thought,were we to realize that those who will clear society of the rotting, superannuated trees that have so long been standing... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE SCANDINAVIAN DRAMA: AUGUST STRINDBERG COMRADES Although comrades was written in 1888, it is in a measure the most up-to-date play of Strindberg,-so thoroughly modern that one at all conversant with the milieu that inspired " Comrades " could easily point out the type of character portrayed in the play. It is a four-act comedy of marriage - the kind of marriage that lacks social and legal security in the form of a ceremony, but retains all the petty. conventions of the marriage institution. The results of such an anomaly are indeed ludicrous when viewed from a distance, but very tragic for those who play a part in it. Axel Alberg and his wife Bertha are Swedish artists residing in Paris. They are both painters. Of course they share t... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE GERMAN DRAMA HERMANN SUDERMANN It has been said that military conquest generally goes hand in hand with the decline of creative genius, with the retrogression of culture. I believe this is not a mere assertion. The history of the human race repeatedly demonstrates that whenever a nation achieved great military success, it invariably involved the decline of art, of literature, of the drama; in short, of culture in the deepest and finest sense. This has been particularly borne out by Germany after its military triumph in the Franco-Prussian War. For almost twenty years after that war, the country of poets and thinkers remained, intellectually, a veritable desert, barren of ideas. Young Germany had to go for its intellectual food ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: HERMANN SUDERMANN MAGDA Lieutenant Colonel Schwartze, Magda's father, represents all the conventional and conservative notions of society. Schwartze. Modern ideas! Oh, pshaw! I know them. But come into the quiet homes where are bred brave soldiers and virtuous wives. There you'll hear no talk about heredity, no arguments about individuality, no scandalous gossip. There modern ideas have no foothold, for it is there that the life and strength of the Fatherland abide. Look at this home! There is no luxury,-hardly even what you call good taste,-faded rugs, birchen chairs, old pictures; and yet when you see the beams of the western sun pour through the white curtains and lie with such a loving touch on the old room, does ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE GERMAN DRAMA: HERMANN SUDERMANN THE FIRES OF ST. JOHN In "The Fires of St. John," Sudermann does not go as far as in " Magda." Nevertheless the play deals with important truths. Life does not always draw the same conclusions; life is not always logical, not always consistent. The function of the artist is to portray life-only thus can he be true both to art and to life. In this drama we witness the bondage of gratitude,-one of the most enslaving and paralyzing factors. Mr. Brauer, a landed proprietor, has a child, Gertrude, a beautiful girl, who has always lived the sheltered life of a hothouse plant. The Brauers also have an adopted daughter, Marie, whom they had picked up on the road, while traveling on a stormy night. They called ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE GERMAN DRAMA: GERHART HAUPTMANN LONELY LIVES Gerhart Hauptmann is the dramatist of whom it may be justly said that he revolutionized the spirit of dramatic art in Germany: the last Mohican of a group of four-Ibsen, Strindberg, Tolstoy, and Hauptmann-who illumined the horizon of the nineteenth century. Of these Hauptmann, undoubtedly the most human, is also the most universal. It is unnecessary to make comparisons between great artists: life is sufficiently complex to give each his place in the great scheme of things. If, then, I consider Hauptmann more human, it is because of his deep kinship with every stratum of life. While Ibsen deals exclusively with one attitude, Hauptmann embraces all, understands all, and portrays all, because... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE GERMAN DRAMA: GERHART HAUPTMANN THE WEAVERS When "The Weavers" first saw the light, pandemonium broke out in the " land of thinkers and poets." "What!" cried Philistia, "workingmen, dirty, emaciated and starved, to be placed on the stage! Poverty, in all its ugliness, to be presented as an after-dinner amusement? That is too much! " Indeed it is too much for the self-satisfied bourgeoisie to be brought face to face with the horrors of the weaver's existence. It is too much, because of the truth and reality that thunders in the placid ears of society a terrific J'accuse! Gerhart Hauptmann is a child of the people; his grandfather was a weaver, and the only way his father could escape the fate of his parents was by leaving his trade... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE GERMAN DRAMA: GERHART HAUPTMANN THE SUNKEN BELL The great versatility of Gerhart Hauptmann is perhaps nowhere so apparent as in " The Sunken Bell," the poetic fairy tale of the tragedy of Man, a tragedy as rich in symbolism as it is realistically true-a tragedy as old as mankind, as elemental as man's ceaseless struggle to cut loose from the rock of ages. Heinrich, the master bell founder, is an idealist consumed by the fire of a great purpose. He has already set a hundred bells ringing in a hundred different towns, all singing his praises. But his restless spirit is not appeased. Ever it soars to loftier heights, always yearning to reach the sun. Now once more he has tried his powers, and the new bell, the great Master Bell, is rai... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
FRANK WEDEKIND THE AWAKENING OF SPRING Frank Wedekind is perhaps the most daring dramatic spirit in Germany. Coming to the fore much later than Sudermann and Hauptmann, he did not follow in their path, but set out in quest of new truths. More boldly than any other dramatist Frank Wedekind has laid bare the shams of morality in reference to sex, especially attacking the ignorance surrounding the sex life of the child and its resultant tragedies. Wedekind became widely known through his great drama "The Awakening of Spring," which he called a tragedy of childhood, dedicating the work to parents and teachers. Verily an appropriate dedication, because parents and teachers are, in relation to the child's needs, the most ignorant and mentally ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE FRENCH DRAMA MAETERLINCK To those who are conversant with the works of Maeterlinck it may seem rather far-fetched to discuss him from the point of view of revolutionary and social significance. Above all, MaEterlinck is the portrayer of the remote, the poet of symbols; therefore it may seem out of place to bring him down to earth, to simplify him, or to interpret his revolutionary spirit. To some extent these objections have considerable weight; but on the other hand, if one keeps in mind that only those who go to the remote are capable of understanding the obvious, one will readily see how very significant Maeterlinck is as a revolutionizing factor. Besides, we have Maeterlinck's own conception of the significance of the revolutionar... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE FRENCH DRAMA: EDMUND ROSTAND Chantecler In view of the progress the modern drama has made as an interpreter of social ideas and portrayer of the human struggle against in. ternal and external barriers, it is difficult to say what the future may bring in the way of great dramatic achievement. So far, however, there is hardly anything to compare with " Chantecler " in philosophic depth and poetic beauty. Chantecler is the intense idealist, whose mission is light and truth. His soul is aglow with deep human sympathies, and his great purpose in life is to dispel the night. He keeps aloof from mediocrity; indeed, he has little knowledge of his immediate surroundings. Like all great visionaries,Chantecler is human, " all too human "; there... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE FRENCH DRAMA: BRIEUX DAMAGED GOODS In the preface to the English edition of "Damaged Goods," George Bernard Shaw relates a story concerning Lord Melbourne, in the early days of Queen Victoria. When the cabinet meeting threatened to break up in confusion, Lord Melbourne put his back to the door and said: "Gentlemen, we can tell the house the truth or we can tell It a lie. I don't give a damn which it is. All I insist on is that we shall all tell the same lie, and you shall not leave the room until you have settled what it is to be." This seems to characterize the position of our middle-class morality to-day. Whether a thing be right or wrong, we are all to express the same opinion on the subject. All must agree on the sameli... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE FRENCH DRAMA: BRIEUX MATERNITY Motherhood today is on the lips of every penny-a-liner, every social patch-worker and political climber. It is so much prated about that one is led to believe that motherhood, in its present condition, is a force for good. It therefore required a free spirit combined with great dramatic power to tear the mask oft the lying face of motherhood, that we may see that, whatever its possibilities in a free future, motherhood is to-day a sickly tree setting forth diseased branches. For its sake thousands of women are being sacrificed and children sent into a cold and barren world without the slightest provision for their physical and mental needs. It was left to Brieux to inscribe with letters of fire the cryin... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW "I am not an ordinary playwright in general practice. I am a specialist in immoral and heretical plays. My reputation has been gained by my persistent struggle to force the public to reconsider its morals. In particular, I regard much current morality as to economic and sexual relations as disastrously wrong; and I regard certain doctrines of the Christian religion as under stood in England to-day with abhorrence. I write plays with the deliberate object of converting the nation to my opinions in these matters." This confession of faith should leave no doubt as to the place of George Bernard Shaw in modern dramatic art. Yet, strange to say, he is among the most doubted of his time. That is partly... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW MRS. WARREN'S PROFESSION Mrs. Warren is engaged in a profession which has existed through all the ages. It was at home in Egypt, played an important role in Greece and Rome, formed one of the influential guilds in the Middle Ages, and has been one of the main sources of income for the Christian Church. But it was left to modern times to make of Mrs. Warren's profession a tremendous social factor, ministering to the needs of man in every station of life, from the brownstone mansion to the hovel, from the highest official to the poorest drag. Time was when the Mrs. Warrens were looked upon as possessed by the devil,-lewd, depraved creatures who would not, even if they had the choice, engage in any o... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: GEORGE BERNARD SHAW MAJOR BARBARA "Major Barbara" is of still greater social importance, inasmuch as it points to the fact that while charity and religion are supposed to minister to the poor, both institutions derive their main revenue from the poor by the perpetuation of the evils both pretend to fight. Major Barbara, the daughter of the world renowned cannon manufacturer Undershaft, has joined the Salvation Army. The latter lays claim to being the most humane religious institution, because--unlike other soul savers--it does not entirely forget the needs of the body. It also teaches that the greater the sinner the more glorious the saving. But as no one is quite as black as he is painted, it becomes necessary for tho... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: JOHN GALSWORTHY The power of the modern drama as an interpreter of the pressing questions of our time is perhaps nowhere evident as clearly as it is in England to-day. Indeed, while other countries have come almost to a standstill in dramatic art, England is the most productive at the present time. Nor can it be said that quantity has been achieved at the expense of quality, which is only too often the case. The most prolific English dramatist, John Galsworthy, is at the same time a great artist whose dramatic quality can be compared with that of only one other living writer, namely, Gerhart Hauptmann. Galsworthy, even as Hauptmann, is neither a propagandist nor a moralist. His background is life, " that palpitati... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: JOHN GALSWORTHY STRIFE Not since Hauptmann's "Weavers" was placed before the thoughtful public, has there apt peered anything more stirring than "Strife." Its theme is a strike in the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, on the borders of England and Wales. The play largely centers about the two dominant figures: John Anthony, the President of the Company, rigid, autocratic and uncompromising; he is unwilling to make the slightest concession, although the men have been out for six months and are in a condition of semi-starvation. On the other hand there is David Roberts, an uncompromising revolutionist, whose devotion to the workers and the cause of freedom is at redwhite heat. Between them are the strikers, worn and weary with ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: JOHN GALSWORTHY JUSTICE No subject of equal social import has received such thoughtful consideration in recent years as the question of Crime and Punishment. A number of books by able writers, both in Europe and this country--preeminently among them "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist," by Alexander Berkman--discuss this topic from the historic, psychologic, and social standpoint, the consensus of opinion being that present penal institutions and our methods of coping with crime have in every respect proved inadequate as well as wasteful. This new attitude toward one of the gravest social wrongs has now also found dramatic interpretation in Galsworthy's "Justice." The play opens in the office of James How & Sons, solic... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: JOHN GALSWORTHY THE PIGEON John Galsworthy calls this play a fantasy. To me it seems cruelly real: it demonstrates that the best human material is crushed in the fatal mechanism of our life. "The Pigeon" also discloses to us the inadequacy of charity, individual and organized, to cope with poverty, as well as the absurdity of reformers and experimenters who attempt to patch up effects while they ignore the causes. Christopher Wellwyn, an artist, a man deeply in sympathy with all human sorrow and failings, generously shares his meager means with everyone who applies to him for help. His daughter Ann is of a more practical turn of mind. She cannot understand that giving is as natural and necessary to her father as ligh... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: STANLEY HOUGHTON HINDLE WAKES In Stanley Houghton, who died last year, the drama lost a talented and brave artist. Brave, because he had the courage to touch one of the most sensitive spots of Puritanism--woman's virtue. Whatever else one may criticize or attack, the sacredness of virtue must remain untouched. It is the last fetish which even so-called liberal-minded people refuse to destroy. To be sure, the attitude towards this holy of holies has of late years undergone a considerable change. It is beginning to be felt in ever-growing circles that love is its own justification, requiring no sanction of either religion or law. The revolutionary idea, however, that woman may, even as man, follow the urge of her nature,... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE ENGLISH DRAMA: GITHA SOWERBY RUTHERFORD AND SON The women's rights women who claim for their sex the most wonderful things in the way of creative achievement, will find it difficult to explain the fact that until the author of "Rutherford and Son" made her appearance, no country had produced, a single women dramatist of note. That is the more remarkable because woman has since time immemorial been a leading figure in histrionic art. Rachel, Sarah Bernhardt, Eleanore Duse, and scores of others had few male peers. It can hardly be that woman is merely a reproducer and not a creator. We have but to recall such creative artists as Charlotte and Emily Bronté, George Sand, George Eliot, Mary Wollstonecraft, Marie Bashkirtshev, Rosa... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE IRISH DRAMA: WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS Most Americans know about the Irish people only that they are not averse to drink, and that they make brutal policemen and corrupt politicians. But those who are familiar with the revolutionary movements of the past are aware of the fortitude and courage, aye, of the heroism of the Irish, manifested during their uprisings, and especially in the Fenian movement--the people's revolt against political despotism and land robbery. And though for years Ireland has contributed to the very worst features of American life, those interested in the fate of its people did not despair; they knew that the spirit of unrest in Ireland was not appeased, and that it would make itself felt again in no uncertain form. T... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE IRISH DRAMA: WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS WHERE THERE IS NOTHING "Where There Is Nothing" is as true an interpretation of the philosophy of Anarchism as could be given by its best exponents. I say this not out of any wish to tag Mr. Yeats, but because the ideal of Paul Ruttledge, the hero of the play, is nothing less than Anarchism applied to everyday life. Paul Ruttledge, a man of wealth, comes to the conclusion, after a long process of development and growth, that riches are wrong, and that the life of the propertied is artificial, useless and inane. Paul Ruttledge. When I hear these people talking I always hear some organized or vested interest chirp or quack, as it does in the newspapers. I would like to have great iron claws, and to pu... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE IRISH DRAMA: LENOX ROBINSON HARVEST Timothy Hurley, an old farmer, slaves all his life and mortgages his farm in order to enable his children to lead an idle, parasitic life. Started on this road toward so-called culture by the school-master, William Lordan, Hurley's children leave their father's farm and in due time es. tablish themselves in society as priest, lawyer, secretary and chemist, respectively. The secretary son is ashamed of his lowly origin and denies it. The lawyer son is much more concerned with his motor car than with the condition of the farm that has helped him on his feet. The priest has departed for America, there to collect funds for Church work. Only Maurice, the youngest son of Timothy Hurley, remains at home ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE IRISH DRAMA: T. G. MURRAY MAURICE HARTE "Maurice Harte" portrays the most sinister force which holds the Irish people in awe -- that heaviest of all bondage, priestcraft. Michael Harte, his wife Ellen, and their son Owen are bent on one purpose; to make a priest of their youngest child Maurice. The mother especially has no other ambition in life than to see her son "priested." No higher ideal to most Catholic mothers than to consecrate their favorite son to the glory of God. What it has cost the Hartes to attain their ambition and hope is revealed by Ellen Harte in the conversation with her sister and later with her husband, when he informs her that he cannot borrow any more money to continue the boy in the seminary. Mrs. Harte. If... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE RUSSIAN DRAMA People outside of Russia, especially Anglo-Saxons, have one great objection to the Russian drama: it is too sad, too gloomy. It is often asked, "Why is the Russian drama so pessimistic?" The answer is: the Russian drama, like all Russian culture, has been conceived in the sorrow of the people; it was born in their woe and struggle. Anything thus conceived cannot be very joyous or amusing. It is no exaggeration to say that in no other country are the creative artists so interwoven, so much at one with the people. This is not only true of men like Turgenev, Tolstoy and the dramatists of modern times. It applies also to Gogol, who in "The Inspector" and "Dead Souls" spoke in behalf of the people, appealing to the conscience... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE RUSSIAN DRAMA: LEO TOLSTOY THE POWER OF DARKNESS When Leo Tolstoy died, the representatives of the Church proclaimed him as their own. "He was with us," they said. It reminds one of the Russian fable about the fly and the ox. The fly was lazily resting on the horn of the ox while he plowed the field, but when the ox returned home exhausted with toil, the fly bragged," We have been plowing." The spokesmen of the Church are, in relation to Tolstoy, in the same position. It is true that Tolstoy based his conception of human relationships on a new interpretation of the Gospels. But he was as far removed from present-day Christianity as Jesus was alien to the institutional religion of his time. Tolstoy was the last true Christian, and as ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
ANTON TCHEKHOF When Anton Tchekhof first came to the fore, no less an authority than Tolstoy said: "Russia has given birth to another Turgenev." The estimate was not overdrawn. Tchekhof was indeed a modern Turgenev. Perhaps not as universal, because Turgenev, having lived in western Europe, in close contact with conditions outside of Russia, dealt with more variegated aspects of life. But as a creative artist Tchekhof is fitted to take his place with Turgenev. Tchekhof is preëminently the master of short stories, Within the limits of a few pages he paints the drama of human life with its manifold tragic and comic colors, in its most intimate reflex upon the characters who pass through the panorama. He has been called a pessimist. As ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE RUSSIAN DRAMA: ANTON TCHEKHOF THE SEAGULL In "The Seagull" the young artist, Constantine Treplef, seeks new forms, new modes of expression. He is tired of the old academic ways, the beaten track; he is disgusted with the endless imitative methods, no one apparently capable of an original thought. Constantine has written a play; the principal part is to be acted by Nina, a beautiful girl with whom Constantine is in love. He arranges the first performance to take place on the occasion of his mother's vacation in the country. She herself--known as Mme. Arcadina--is a famous actress of the old school. She knows how to show off her charms to advantage, to parade her beautiful gowns, to faint and die gracefully before the footlights; but ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE CHERRY ORCHARD "The Cherry Orchard" is Tchekhof's prophetic song. In this play he depicts three stages of social development and their reflex in literature. Mme. Ranevsky, the owner of the cherry orchard, an estate celebrated far and wide for its beauty and historic traditions, is deeply attached to the family place. She loves it for its romanticism: nightingales sing in the orchard, accompanying the wooing of lovers. She is devoted to it because of the memory of her ancestors and because of the many tender ties which bind her to the orchard. The same feeling and reverence is entertained by her brother Leonid Gayef. They are expressed in the Ode to an Old Family Cupboard: Gayef. Beloved and venerable cupboard; honor and glory to yo... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
THE RUSSIAN DRAMA: MAXIM GORKI A NIGHT'S LODGING We in America are conversant with tramp literature. A number of writers of considerable note have described what is commonly called the underworld, among them Josiah Flynt and Jack London, who have ably interpreted the life and psychology of the outcast. But with all due respect for their ability, it must be said that, after all, they wrote only as onlookers, as observes. They were not tramps themselves, in the real sense of the word. In "The Children of the Abyss" Jack London relates that when he stood in the breadline, he had money, a room in a good hotel, and a change of linen at hand. He was therefore not an integral part of the underworld, of the homeless and hopeless. Never before ha... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
LEONID ANDREYEV KING-HUNGER Leonid Andreyev is the youngest and at the present time the most powerful dramatist of Russia. Like Tchekhof and Gorki, he is very versatile: his sketches and stories possess as fine a literary quality and stirring social appeal as his plays. No one who has read his terrible picture of war, "The Red Laugh," or his unsurpassed arraignment of capital punishment, "The Seven Who Were Hanged," can erase from memory the effect of Leonid Andreyev's forceful pen. The drama "King-Hunger" deals with the most powerful king on earth,--King-Hunger. In the presence of Time and Death he pleads with Time to ring the alarm, to call the people to rebellion, because the earth is replete with- suffering: cities, shops, mines, fa... (From: Anarchy Archives.)


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