How to Write a Play,
From Emile Augier
My dear Dreyfus:
You ask me the recipe for making comedies. I don't know it; but I suppose it should resemble somewhat the one given by the sergeant to the
conscript for making cannon:
"You take a hole and you pour bronze around it."
If this is not the only recipe, it is at least the one most followed. Perhaps there should be another which would consist in taking bronze and
making a hole thru the center and an opening for light at the end. In cannon this hole is called the core. What should it be called in dramatic
work? Find another name, if you don't like that one.
These are the only directions I can give you. Add to them, if you wish, this counsel of a wise man to a dramatist in a difficulty:
"Soak your fifth act in gentle tears, and salt the other four with dashes of wit."
I do not think that the author followed this advice.
Émile Augier (1820-1889) disputes with Alexandre Dumas the foremost place among the French dramatists of the second half of the nineteenth
century. The 'Gendre de M. Poirier' (which he wrote in collaboration with Jules Sandeau) is the masterpiece of modern comedy, a worthy successor
to the 'Tartuffe' of Molière and the 'Marriage of Figaro' of Beaumarchais.