The Development of the Drama

By Brander Matthews | Go to book overview

X.
THE FUTURE OF THE DRAMA

I

WHEN we stand upon the portal of a new century a glance back may serve to reassure us for a gaze forward; altho we must acknowledge that in the nineteenth century, as indeed in the eighteenth also, the drama did not pass through a splendid period of expansion such as made glorious its history in the seventeenth century. We are forced to remark that in the course of the last two hundred years the drama had lost its literary supremacy, partly as a result of its own enfeeblement, and partly in consequence of the overwhelming competition of prose-fiction, which was able to perform in the nineteenth century even more than it had promised in the eighteenth.

But we are encouraged to note that a score of years before the century drew to an end the novel was beginning to show signs of slackening energy, while the play was apparently again gathering strength for a sharper rivalry. In German and in

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