The Master of Santiago: And Four Other Plays

The Master of Santiago: And Four Other Plays

The Master of Santiago: And Four Other Plays

The Master of Santiago: And Four Other Plays

Excerpt

p>It will be a long time before I forget what I felt as the curtain came down for a moment after the first act of The Master of Santiago in that Paris theater: a feeling of having been inside a painting by El Greco and having actually heard the people whom he painted talk; also that this was clearly the finest newly written play to be staged in Paris since the Liberation. At the end of the last act, as Montherlant himself remarks proudly in an article on "Playwriting and Bullfighting," the public went out haggard, "having followed, where he meant to lead them, an author they did not like, who had fought them as you fight a bull, with a play of which they understood damn all, and a character whom they detested."

Montherlant, still hardly known in England or in the United States, is in France generally accepted as a great writer, even by most of those--and they are many--who intensely dislike some of his work. In the summer of 1949 the weekly review Carrefour put to its readers the question: "Which of the contemporary French writers will be the most read in the year 2,000?" and in the many replies it was Montherlant who most often came first--more often than Gide, Malraux, Colette, or Claudel. (A measure, of course, not necessarily of merit, but certainly of influence, though not among the very young or the very Left-wing.) Montherlant's reputation, which was already great twenty years ago, was based then on novels and essays. With two exceptions--L'Exil and Pasiphaé, both special cases-- it was not till 1940 that he began writing for the stage.

This is curious, for there is in Montherlant's temperament and philosophy a major element that marks him out to excel in . . .

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