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Plays   By: (1823-1886)

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First Page:

PLAYS

BY

ALEXANDER OSTROVSKY

A PROTÉGÉE OF THE MISTRESS POVERTY IS NO CRIME SIN AND SORROW ARE COMMON TO ALL IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR WE'LL SETTLE IT OURSELVES

A TRANSLATION FROM THE RUSSIAN, EDITED BY

GEORGE RAPALL NOYES

1917

PREFATORY NOTE

The following persons have co operated in preparing the present volume: Leonard Bacon (verses in "Poverty Is No Crime"), Florence Noyes (suggestions on the style of all the plays), George Rapall Noyes (introduction, revision of the translation, and suggestions on the style of all the plays), Jane W. Robertson ("Poverty Is No Crime"), Minnie Eline Sadicoff ("Sin and Sorrow Are Common to All"), John Laurence Seymour ("It's a Family Affair We'll Settle It Ourselves" and "A Protégée of the Mistress"). The system of transliteration for Russian names used in the book is with very small variations that recommended for "popular" use by the School of Russian Studies in the University of Liverpool.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

A PROTÉGÉE OF THE MISTRESS

POVERTY IS NO CRIME

SIN AND SORROW ARE COMMON TO ALL

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR WE'LL SETTLE IT OURSELVES

INTRODUCTION

ALEXANDER NIKOLAYEVICH Ostróvsky (1823 86) is the great Russian dramatist of the central decades of the nineteenth century, of the years when the realistic school was all powerful in Russian literature, of the period when Turgénev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy created a literature of prose fiction that has had no superior in the world's history. His work in the drama takes its place beside theirs in the novel. Obviously inferior as it is in certain ways, it yet sheds light on an important side of Russian life that they left practically untouched. Turgénev and Tolstoy were gentlemen by birth, and wrote of the fortunes of the Russian nobility or of the peasants whose villages bordered on the nobles' estates. Dostoyevsky, though not of this landed proprietor school, still dealt with the nobility, albeit with its waifs and strays. None of these masters more than touched the Russian merchants, that homespun moneyed class, crude and coarse, grasping and mean, without the idealism of their educated neighbors in the cities or the homely charm of the peasants from whom they themselves sprang, yet gifted with a rough force and determination not often found among the cultivated aristocracy. This was the field that Ostróvsky made peculiarly his own.

With this merchant class Ostróvsky was familiar from his childhood. Born in 1823, he was the son of a lawyer doing business among the Moscow tradesmen. After finishing his course at the gymnasium and spending three years at the University of Moscow, he entered the civil service in 1843 as an employee of the Court of Conscience in Moscow, from which he transferred two years later to the Court of Commerce, where he continued until he was discharged from the service in 1851. Hence both by his home life and by his professional training he was brought into contact with types such as Bolshóv and Rizpolozhensky in "It's a Family Affair We'll Settle It Ourselves."

As a boy of seventeen Ostróvsky had already developed a passion for the theatre. His literary career began in the year 1847, when he read to a group of Moscow men of letters his first experiments in dramatic composition. In this same year he printed one scene of "A Family Affair," which appeared in complete form three years later, in 1850, and established its author's reputation as a dramatist of undoubted talent. Unfortunately, by its mordant but true picture of commercial morals, it aroused against him the most bitter feelings among the Moscow merchants. Discussion of the play in the press was prohibited, and representation of it on the stage was out of the question. It was reprinted only in 1859, and then, at the instance of the censorship, in an altered form, in which a police officer appears at the end of the play as a deus ex machina , arrests Podkhalyúzin, and announces that he will be sent to Siberia... Continue reading book >>




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