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Archive for December 2nd, 2008

Théophile  Gautier himself no mean writer has left this account of Balzac’s attempt to write a play. Hard pressed for cash the celebrated author Honoré de Balzac got the advance for a play, which was to be on Vautrin, a character from Père Goriot. Hartel, the manager of Porte-St.Martin Theatre, as luck would have it was in need of a play. Père Goriot was already a success and M. Hartel agreed. Frédérick Lemaitre(who figures in the film Les Enfants du Paradis-1945) was to play the title role. Gautier and a few others were roped in to hear the reading of the play.
At last they assembled on the premises of the tailor Buisson, in the rue de Richelieu where a room was furnished for the purpose.
‘So here is Théo at last!’  Balzac cried,’Lazy and late as ever. You should have been here an hour ago…I’ve got to read Hartel a five act play tomorrow.’
‘And you want our opinion?’ we asked setting ourselves in our armchairs with the air of men preparing for a long session.
Perceiving from our attitude Balzac said with perfect simplicity: ‘It isn’t written.’
‘For Heaven’s sake!’I exclaimed, ‘In that case you’ll have to postpone the reading for six weeks.’
‘Not a bit of it. We’re going to knock off this dramorama and raise the wind. Just now my arrears are pretty heavy.’
‘But we can’t do it between now and tomorrow. There won’t be time to copy it.’
‘This is how I arranged it. You’ll do one act, Ourliac another, Laurent- Jan the third, de Belloy the fourth and I’ll do the fifth-and I’ll read it by midday tomorrow as agreed. One act of play is only four or five hundred lines and anyone can write five hundred lines of dialogue in a day and night.’
‘Well, if you’ll tell me the subject and give me the scenario and let me know something about the characters, I’ll get to work,’ I said not a little alarmed.
‘Oh Lord,’ he cried, with a look of superb astonishment and magnificent scorn, ‘if I’ve got to tell you what it is all about we shall never get it done!’
Needless to say it was not done in time.
Compiler: benny(  Prometheus: the life of Balzac by André Maurois)

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