Scribe, Augustin Eugène


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Scribe, Augustin Eugène

(ōgüstăN` özhĕn` skrēb), 1791–1861, French dramatist and librettist. He began his prolific and highly successful writing career with vaudeville sketches. One of the first playwrights to mirror bourgeois morality and life, he infused 19th-century French opera and drama with liberal political and religious ideas. Among the best of his comedies, which are notable for their well-structured plots, is Bataille de Dames (1851). His historical drama Adrienne Lecouvreur (1849) was later adapted as an opera. Scribe wrote librettos for about 60 operas by such composers as Auber, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Bellini, and Verdi.

Scribe, Augustin Eugène

 

Born Dec. 25, 1791, in Paris; died there Feb. 21, 1861. French playwright. Member of the Académie Française (1834).

Scribe’s plays, which number approximately 150, made up the basic comedic repertoire of the 19th-century French theater. His witty and mockingly humorous vaudevilles and comedies are characterized by artfully constructed plots and lively dialogue. Praising common sense, practicality, and bourgeois virtues, they appealed to bourgeois audiences, who were touched by the “office heroism and the poetry of the shop” and who recognized “themselves and their ideals in Scribe’s heroes” (A. I. Herzen, Sobr. soch, vol. 5, 1955, p. 34). The plays Le Manage d’argent (1827), Le Mariage de raison (1828), and Une Chaî ne (1841) are typical examples. Despite Scribe’s conservative social views, his best plays are topical and bitingly satirical, for example, La Camaraderie ou la courte-échelle (1837). Some plays, for example, Le Verre d’eau (1840) and Adrienne Lecouvreur (1849), are loosely based on historical events.

Scribe wrote most of his plays in collaboration with other playwrights, including G. Delavigne, E. Legouvé, and E. Mazères. He wrote librettos for operas by G. Meyerbeer, D. F. E. Auber, J. Halévy, and other composers. He also wrote prose works. Approximately 130 of Scribe’s plays and approximately 20 of his opera librettos have been translated into Russian. Prominent Russian and Soviet actors have performed in Scribe’s plays, which have been well known in Russia since the 1820’s.

WORKS

Oeuvres complètes [vols. 1–76). Paris, 1874–85.
In Russian translation:
P’esy. Moscow, 1960.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 3. Moscow, 1963.
Lunacharskii, A. V.“Skrib i skribizm.” Sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow, 1965.
Arvin, N. C. E. Scribe and the French Theatre, 1815–1860. Cambridge [1968].
Cardwell, W. D. The Dramaturgy of E. Scribe (dissertation). New Haven, Conn., 1971.

G. S. AVESSALOMOVA

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