Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 901 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
GUILLAUME VICTOR SMILE AUGIER (182o-1889), French dramatist, was born at Valence, Dr6me, on the 17th of September 182o. He was the grandson of Pigault Lebrun, and belonged to the well-to-do bourgeoisie in principles and in thought as well as by actual birth. He received a good education and studied for the bar. In 1844 he wrote a play in two acts and in verse, La Cigue, refused at the Theatre Francais, but produced with considerable success at the Odeon. This settled his career. Thenceforward, at fairly regular intervals, either alone or in collaboration with other writers—Jules Sandeau, Eugene-Marie Labiche, Ed. Foussier—he produced plays which were in their way eventful. Le Fils de Giboyer (1862)—which was regarded as an attack on the clerical party in France, and was only brought out by the direct intervention of the emperor—caused some political excitement. His last comedy, Les Fourchambault, belongs to the year 1879. After that date he wrote no more, restrained by an honourable fear of producing inferior work. The Academy had long before, on the 31st of March 1857, elected him to be one of its members. He died in his house at Croissy on the 25th of October 1889. Such, in briefest outline, is the story of a life which Angier himself describes as " without incident "—a life in all senses honourable. Augier, with Dumas fils and Sardou, may be said to have held the AUGITE 9.0 I French stage during the Second Empire. The man respected himself and his art, and his art on its ethical side—for he did not disdain to be a teacher—has high qualities of rectitude and self-restraint. Uprightness of mind and of heart, generous honesty, as Jules Lemaitre well said, constituted the very soul of all his dramatic work. L'Aventuriere (1848), the first of Augier's important works, already shows a deviation from romantic models; and in the Mariage d'Olympe (1855) the courtesan is shown as she is, not glorified as in Dumas's Dame aux Camelias. In Gabrielle (1849) the husband, not the lover, is the sympathetic, poetic character. In the Lionnes pauvres (1858) the wife who sells her favours comes under the lash. Greed of gold, social demoralization, ultramontanism, lust of power, these are satirized in Les Effrontes (1861), Le Fils de Giboyer (1862), Contagion, first announced under the title of Le Baron d'Estrigaud (1866), Lions et renards (1869)—which, with Le Gendre de M. Poirier (1854), written in collaboration with Jules Sandeau, reach the high-water mark of Augier's art; in Philiberte (1853) he produced a graceful and delicate drawing-room comedy; and in Jean de Thommeray, acted in 1873 after the great reverses of 1870, the regenerating note of patriotism rings high and clear. His last two dramas, Madame Caverlet (1876) and Les Fourchambault (1879), are problem plays. But it would be unfair to suggest that Emile Angier was a preacher only. He was a moralist in the great sense, the sense in which the term can be applied to Moliere and the great dramatists—a moralist because of his large and sane outlook on life. Nor does the interest of his dramas depend on elaborate plot. It springs from character and its evolution. His men and women move as personality, that mysterious factor, dictates. They are real, several of them typical. Augier's first drama, La Cigue, belongs to a time (1844) when the romantic drama was on the wane; and his almost exclusively domestic range of subject scarcely lends itself to lyric outbursts of pure poetry. But his verse, if not that of a great poet, has excellent dramatic qualities, while the prose of his prose dramas is admirable for directness, alertness, sinew and a large and effective wit. Perhaps it wanted these qualities to enlist laughter on his side in such a war as he waged against false passion and false sentiment. (F. T. M.)
End of Article: GUILLAUME VICTOR SMILE AUGIER (182o-1889)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.