The Great Play "Les Avaries" of Eugene Brieux
Novelized with the approval
of the author
by Upton Sinclair
THE PRODUCTION OF EUGENE BRIEUX'S PLAY, "LES AVARIES," OR, TO GIVE IT
ITS ENGLISH TITLE, "DAMAGED GOODS," HAS INITIATED A MOVEMENT IN THIS
COUNTRY WHICH MUST BE REGARDED AS EPOCH-MAKING.--New York Times
+++Page 4 is a virtually
unreadable letter in handwritten script
My endeavor has been to tell a simple story, preserving as closely as
possible the spirit and feeling of the original. I have tried, as it
were, to take the play to pieces, and build a novel out of the same
material. I have not felt at liberty to embellish M. Brieux's ideas, and
I have used his dialogue word for word wherever
possible. Unless I have
mis-read the author, his sole purpose in writing
LES AVARIES was to
place a number of most important facts before the minds of the public,
and to drive them home by means of intense
emotion. If I have been able
him, this bit of literary
carpentering will be worth while. I
have to thank M. Brieux for his kind permission
to make the attempt, and
for the cordial
spirit which he has manifested.
PRESS COMMENTS ON THE PLAY
DAMAGED GOODS was first presented in America at a Friday matinee on
March 14th, 1913, in the Fulton Theater, New York, before members of
the Sociological Fund. Immediately it was acclaimed by public press and
pulpit as the greatest contribution
ever made by the Stage to the cause
of humanity. Mr. Richard Bennett, the producer, who had the courage to
present the play, with the aid of his co-workers, in the face of most
from the ignorant, was overwhelmed with requests for a
repetition of the performance.
Before deciding whether of not to present DAMAGED GOODS before the
general public, it was arranged that the highest officials in the United
States should pass judgment upon the manner in which the play teaches
its vital lesson. A special guest performance
for members of the
Cabinet, members of both houses of Congress, members of the United
States Supreme Court, representatives of the Diplomatic corps and others
prominent in national life was given in Washington, D.C.
Although the performance
was given on a Sunday afternoon (April 6,
1913), the National Theater was crowded
to the very doors with the most
ever assembled in America, including exclusively
men and women of the Capital. The most noted clergymen of
Washington were among the spectators.
The result of this remarkableperformance
was a tremendous
of the play and of the manner in which Mr. Bennett and his co-workers
were presenting it.
resulted in the continuance
of the New York performances
until mid-summer and is responsible
for the decision on the part of Mr.
Bennett to offer the play in every city in America where citizens feel
that the ultimatewelfare
of the community
upon a higher
standard of morality
and clearer understanding of the laws of health.
The WASHINGTON POST, commenting on the Washington performance, said:
The play was presented with all the impressiveness of a sermon; with all
the vigor and dynamic force of a great drama; with all the earnestness
and power of a vital truth.
In many respects the presentation
of this dramatization of a great
social evil assumed the aspects of a religious service. Dr. Donald C.
of the First Presbyterian Church, mounted the rostrum
usually occupied by the leader of the orchestra, and announced that the
nature of the performance, the sacredness of the play, and the character
of the audience
gave to the play the significance
of a tremendous
of mankind, and that as such it was eminently fitting
be invoked. Dr. Earle Wilfley, pastor
of the Vermont
Avenue Christian Church, asked all persons in the audience
their heads in a prayer for the proper reception
of the message to be
presented from the stage. Dr. MacLeod then read the Bernard Shaw preface
to the play, and asked that there be no applause
during the performance,
which was rigidly
followed, thus adding greatly to the
effectiveness and the seriousness
of the dramatic
made upon the audience
by the remarkable
reflected in such comments as the following expressions voiced after the
RABBI SIMON, OF THE WASHINGTON HEBREW CONGREGATION--If I could preach
from my pulpit
one tenth as powerful, as convincing, as
far-reaching, and as helpful as this performance
of DAMAGED GOODS must
be, I would consider that I had achieved the triumph
of my life.
COMMISSIONER CUNO H. RUDOLPH--I was deeply impressed by what I saw, and
I think that the drama should be repeated
in every city, a matinee one
day for father and son and the next day for mother and daughter.
REV. EARLE WILFLEY--I am confirmed in the opinion that we must take up
our cudgels in a crusade
against the modern problems brought to the
fore by DAMAGED GOODS. The report that these diseases are increasing is
enough to make us get busy on a campaign
SURGEON GENERAL BLUE--It was a most striking
and telling lesson. For
years we have been fighting these condition in the navy. It is high time
that civilians awakened to the dangers surrounding
them and crusaded
against them in a proper manner.
MRS. ARCHIBALD HOPKINS--The play was a powerful presentation
of a very
important question and was handled in a most admirable
drama is a fine entering wedge for this crusade
and is bound to do
considerable good in conveying information of a very serious nature.
MINISTER PEZET, OF PERU--There can be no doubt but that the performance
will have great uplifting power, and accomplish the good for which it
was created. Fortunately, we do not have the prudery in South America
that you of the north possess, and have open minds to consider these
JUSTICE DANIEL THEW WRIGHT--I feel quite sure that DAMAGED GOODS will
effect in educating the people of the nature of the
danger that surrounds them.
SENATOR KERN, OF INDIANA--There can be no denial
of the fact that it is
time to look at the serious problems presented in the play with an open
Brieux has been hailed by Bernard Shaw as "incomparably the greatest
writer France has produced since Moliere," and perhaps no writer
wielded his pen more earnestly
in the service of the race. To quote from
an article by Edwin E. Slosson in the INDEPENDENT:
Brieux is not one who believes that social evils are to be cured by laws
and yet more laws. He believes that most of the trouble is caused
and urges education, public enlightenment and franker
recognition of existing conditions. All this may be needed, but still we
may well doubt its effectiveness as a remedy. The drunken
is not a strong one, and those who lead a vicious
life know more about
its risks than any teacher or preacher
could tell them. Brieux also
urges the requirement
of health certificates for marriage, such as many
clergymen now insist upon and which doubtless
will be made compulsory
before long in many of our States.
Brieux paints in black colors yet is no fanatic; in fact, he will
be criticised by many as being too tolerant
of human weakness. The
conditions of society and the moral standards of France are so different
from those of America that his point of view and his proposals for
reform will not meet with general acceptance, but it is encouraging to
find a dramatist
who realizes the importance of being earnest
uses his art in defense of virtue
instead of its destruction.
Other comments follow, showing the great interest manifested in the play
and the belief
in the highest seriousness
of its purpose:
There is no uncleanness in facts. The uncleanness is in the glamour, in
the secret imagination. It is in hints, half-truths, and suggestions the
threat to life lies.
This play puts the horrible
truth in so living a way, with such clean,
artistic force, that the mind is impressed as it could possibly be
impressed in no other manner.
Best of all, it is the physician
who dominates the action. There is no
sentimentalizing. There is no weak and morbid handling of the theme.
The doctor appears in his ideal function, as the modern high-priest of
truth. Around him writhe
the victims of ignorance
and the criminals
cruelty. Kind, stern, high-minded, clear-headed, yet
human-hearted, he towers over all, as the master.
This is as it should be. The man to say the word to save the world of
ignorant wretches, cursed by the clouds and darkness a mistaken
has thrown around a life-and-death instinct, is the physician.
The only question is this: Is this play decent? My answer is that it is
the decentest play that has been in New York for a year. It is so decent
that it is religious.--HEARST'S MAGAZINE.
The play is, above all, a powerful plea for the tearing away of the veil
that has so universally
shrouded this subject of the penalty
immorality. It is a plea for light on this hidden
fathers and mothers, young men and young women, may know the terrible
price that must be paid, not only by the generation
that violates the
law, but by the generations to come. It is a serious question just how
the education of men and women, especially young men and young women, in
the vital matters of sex relationship
should be carried on. One thing is
sure, however. The worst possible way is the one which has so often been
followed in the past--not to carry it on at all but to ignore
It (DAMAGED GOODS) is, of course, a masterpiece
of "thesis drama,"--an
argument, dogmatic, insistent, inescapable, cumulative, between science
and common sense, on one side, and love, of various types, on the other.
It is what Mr. Bernard Shaw has called a "drama of discussion"; it
has the splendid movement
of the best Shaw plays, unrelieved--and
undiluted--by Shavian paradox, wit, and irony. We imagine that many
audiences at the Fulton Theater were astonished at the play's showing
of sheer strength as acted drama. Possibly it might not interest the
general public; probably it would be inadvisable to present it to them.
But no thinking person, with the most casual
interest in current social
evils, could listen to the version
of Richard Bennett, Wilton Lackaye,
and their associates, without being gripped by the power of Brieux's
It is a wonder that the world has been so long in getting hold of this
play, which is one of France's most valuable
contributions to the drama.
Its history is interesting. Brieux wrote it over ten years ago. Antoine
produced it at his theater and Paris immediately censored it, but soon
thought better of it and removed the ban. During the summer of 1910
it was played in Brussels before crowded
houses, for then the city was
thronged with visitors to the exposition. Finally New York got it last
spring and eugenic enthusiasts and doctors everywhere have welcomed it.
A letter to Mr. Bennett from Dr. Hills, Pastor of Plymouth Church,
23 Monroe Street Bklyn. August 1, 1913.
Mr. Richard Bennett, New York City, N.Y. My Dear Mr. Bennett:
During the past twenty-one years since I entered public life, I have
experienced many exciting hours under the influence of reformer, orator
and actor, but, in this mood of retrospection, I do not know that I
have ever passed through a more thrilling, terrible, and yet hopeful
experience than last evening, while I listened to your interpretation
Eugene Brieux' "DAMAGED GOODS."
I have been following your work with ever deepening interest. It is not
too much to say that you have changed the thinking of the people of our
country as to the social evil. At last, thank God, this conspiracy
silence is ended. No young man who sees "Damaged Goods" will ever be the
same again. If I wanted to build around an innocent
boy buttresses of
fire and granite, and lend him triplearmour
assaults of evil, I would put him for one evening under your influence.
That which the teacher, the preacher
and the parent have failed to
accomplish it has been given to you to achieve. You have done a work for
which your generation
owes you an immeasurable debt of gratitude.
I shall be delighted
to have you use my Study of Social Diseases and
Heredity in connection
with your great reform.
With all good wishes, I am, my dear Mr. Bennett, Faithfully yours,
Newell Dwight Hillis
It was four o'clock in the morning when George Dupont closed the door
and came down the steps to the street. The first faint streaks of dawn
were in the sky, and he noticed this with annoyance, because he knew
that his hair was in disarray and his whole aspect
disorderly; yet he
dared not take a cab, because he feared to attract attention at home.
When he reached the sidewalk, he glanced about him to make sure that no
one had seen him leave the house, then started down the street, his eyes
upon the sidewalk
George had the feeling of the morning after. There are few men in this
world of abundant
sin who will not know what the phrase
means. The fumes
of the night had evaporated; he was quite sober now, quite free from
excitement. He saw what he had done, and it seemed to him something
black and disgusting.
Never had a walk seemed longer than the few blocks which he had to
traverse to reach his home. He must get there before the maid was
up, before the baker's boy called with the rolls; otherwise, what
explanation could he give?--he who had always been such a moral man, who
had been pointed
out by mothers as an example to their sons.
George thought of his own mother, and what she would think if she could
know about his night's adventure. He thought again and again, with a
pang of anguish, of Henriette. Could it be possible that a man who was
engaged, whose marriage contract had actually
been signed, who was soon
to possess the love of a beautiful and noble girl--that such a man could
have been weak enough and base enough to let himself be trapped into
such a low action?
He went back over the whole series
of events, shuddering at them, trying
to realize how they had happened, trying
to excuse himself for them.
He had not intended such a culmination; he had never meant to do such a
thing in his life. He had not thought of any harm when he had accepted
to the supper party with his old companions from the law
school. Of course, he had known that several of these chums led "fast"
lives--but, then, surely a fellow could go to a friend's rooms for a
lark without harm!
He remembered the girl who had sat by his side at the table. She had
come with a friend who was a married woman, and so he had assumed that
she was all right. George remembered how embarrassed he had been when
first he had noticed her glances at him. But then the wine had begun
to go to his head--he was one of those unfortunate
wretches who cannot
drink wine at all. He had offered to take the girl home in a cab, and on
the way he had lost his head.
Oh! What a wretched
thing it was. He could hardly believe that it was he
who had spoken
those frenzied words; and yet he must have spoken
because he remembered them. He remembered that it had taken a long
time to persuade
her. He had had to promise her a ring like the one her
married friend wore. Before they entered her home she had made him take
off his shoes, so that the porter
might not hear them. This had struck
George particularly, because, even flushed with excitement
as he was,
he had not forgotten the warnings his father had given him as to the
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a.重要的；值得重视 (初中英语单词)writer [´raitə] n.作者；作家 (初中英语单词)ignorance [´ignərəns] n.无知，愚昧 (初中英语单词)drunken [´drʌŋkən] a.喝醉的；常醉的 (初中英语单词)doubtless [´dautlis] ad.无疑地；大概，多半 (初中英语单词)weakness [´wi:knis] n.虚弱；弱点，缺点 (初中英语单词)earnest [´ə:nist] a.认真的 n.认真；诚恳 (初中英语单词)virtue [´və:tʃu:] n.美德；贞操；长处 (初中英语单词)belief [bi´li:f] n.相信；信仰，信条 (初中英语单词)imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] n.想象(力) (初中英语单词)horrible [´hɔrəbəl] a.可怕的；恐怖的 (初中英语单词)physician [fi´ziʃən] n.(内科)医生 (初中英语单词)function [´fʌŋkʃən] n.机能；职责 vi.活动 (初中英语单词)instinct [´instiŋkt] n.本能；直觉；天资 (初中英语单词)mystery [´mistəri] n.神秘；秘密；故弄玄虚 (初中英语单词)hidden [´hid(ə)n] hide 的过去分词 (初中英语单词)generation [,dʒenə´reiʃən] n.发生；世代；同龄人 (初中英语单词)valuable [´væljuəbəl, -jubəl] a.有价值的，贵重的 (初中英语单词)innocent [´inəsənt] a.无罪的；单纯的 (初中英语单词)armour [´ɑ:mə] (=armor) n.甲胄，盔甲 (初中英语单词)achieve [ə´tʃi:v] vt.完成；达到；获得 (初中英语单词)connection [kə´nekʃən] n.联系；关系；联运 (初中英语单词)aspect [´æspekt] n.面貌；神色；方向 (初中英语单词)abundant [ə´bʌndənt] a.丰富的；充分的 (初中英语单词)phrase [freiz] n.短语；词组；措词 (初中英语单词)otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] ad.另外 conj.否则 (初中英语单词)pointed [´pɔintid] a.尖(锐)的；中肯的 (初中英语单词)actually [´æktʃuəli] ad.事实上；实际上 (初中英语单词)series [´siəri:z] n.连续；系列；丛书 (初中英语单词)invitation [,invi´teiʃən] n.邀请；请帖；吸引 (初中英语单词)unfortunate [ʌn´fɔ:tʃunit] a.不幸的，运气差的 (初中英语单词)wretched [´retʃid] a.可怜的；倒霉的 (初中英语单词)spoken [´spəukən] speak的过去分词 (初中英语单词)persuade [pə´sweid] v.(被)说服；使相信 (初中英语单词)excitement [ik´saitmənt] n.兴奋；骚动；煽动 (初中英语单词)approval [ə´pru:vəl] n.赞成，批准，认可 (高中英语单词)intense [in´tens] a.强烈的；紧张的 (高中英语单词)cordial [´kɔ:diəl] a.热忱的；亲切的 (高中英语单词)contribution [,kɔntri´bju:ʃən] n.贡献；捐献；投稿 (高中英语单词)producer [prə´dju:sə] n.生产者；演出人 (高中英语单词)crowded [´kraudid] a.充(拥)满了的 (高中英语单词)foremost [´fɔ:məust] a.最重要的；最先的 (高中英语单词)reception [ri´sepʃən] n.接待；欢迎；招待会 (高中英语单词)ultimate [´ʌltimit] a.最终的 n.终极；顶点 (高中英语单词)community [kə´mju:niti] n.团体；社区；公众 (高中英语单词)dependent [di´pendənt] a.依赖的；从属的 (高中英语单词)sermon [´sə:mən] n.说教；训诫；讲道 (高中英语单词)pastor [´pɑ:stə] n.牧师 (高中英语单词)orchestra [´ɔ:kistrə] n.管弦乐队 (高中英语单词)significance [sig´nifikəns] n.意义；重要性 (高中英语单词)behalf [bi´hɑ:f] n.利益 (高中英语单词)applause [ə´plɔ:z] n.鼓掌；欢呼；称赞 (高中英语单词)repeated [ri´pi:tid] a.反复的；重复的 (高中英语单词)crusade [kru:´seid] n.改革运动 (高中英语单词)campaign [kæm´pein] n.战役；行动 vi.从军 (高中英语单词)surrounding [sə´raundiŋ] n.周围的事物 (高中英语单词)admirable [´ædmərəbəl] a.极佳的，值得赞美的 (高中英语单词)fortunately [´fɔ:tʃənətli] ad.幸运地 (高中英语单词)earnestly [´ə:nistli] ad.认真地；急切地 (高中英语单词)remedy [´remidi] n.药品 vt.医治；减轻 (高中英语单词)preacher [´pri:tʃə] n.讲道者，传教士 (高中英语单词)requirement [ri´kwaiəmənt] n.需要(的东西)；要求 (高中英语单词)acceptance [ək´septəns] n.接受；承认 (高中英语单词)cruelty [´kru:əlti] n.残忍；残酷行为 (高中英语单词)mistaken [mis´teikən] mistake的过去分词 (高中英语单词)decent [´di:sənt] a.体面的，正派的 (高中英语单词)relationship [ri´leiʃənʃip] n.关系；联系；亲属关系 (高中英语单词)ignore [ig´nɔ:] vt.忽视，不理，不顾 (高中英语单词)casual [´kæʒuəl] a.偶然的；临时的 (高中英语单词)exposition [,ekspə´ziʃən] n.说明；工业博览会 (高中英语单词)interpretation [in,tə:pri´teiʃən] n.解释；翻译；表演 (高中英语单词)conspiracy [kən´spirəsi] n.密谋；协同作用 (高中英语单词)granite [´grænit] n.花岗岩 (高中英语单词)temptation [temp´teiʃən] n.引诱，诱惑(物) (高中英语单词)faithfully [´feiθfəli] ad.忠实地；诚恳地 (高中英语单词)sidewalk [´saidwɔ:k] n.人行道 (高中英语单词)anguish [´æŋgwiʃ] n.(极度的)痛苦；苦恼 (高中英语单词)porter [´pɔ:tə] n.守门人；勤杂工人 (高中英语单词)virtually [´və:tʃuəli] ad.实际上，实质上 (英语四级单词)diplomatic [,diplə´mætik] a.外交的 (英语四级单词)continuance [kən´tinjuəns] n.继续；持续逗留；连续 (英语四级单词)morality [mə´ræliti] n.道德；教训；伦理学 (英语四级单词)presentation [,prezən´teiʃən] n.介绍；赠送；提出 (英语四级单词)presbyterian [,prezbi´tiəriən] a.长老会(制)的 (英语四级单词)pulpit [´pulpit] n.讲坛 (英语四级单词)convincing [kən´vinsiŋ] a.有说服力的；有力的 (英语四级单词)vicious [´viʃəs] a.不道德的；刻毒的 (英语四级单词)writhe [raið] v.扭曲，扭歪 (英语四级单词)conventional [kən´venʃənəl] a.常规的；协定的 (英语四级单词)universally [,ju:ni´və:səli] ad.普遍地 (英语四级单词)masterpiece [´mɑ:stəpi:s] n.杰作；杰出的事 (英语四级单词)version [´və:ʃən, ´və:rʒən] n.翻译；说明；译本 (英语四级单词)brussels [´brʌslz] n.布鲁塞尔 (英语四级单词)plymouth [´pliməθ] n.普利茅斯 (英语四级单词)delighted [di´laitid] a.高兴的；喜欢的 (英语四级单词)annoyance [ə´nɔiəns] n.烦恼事(人) (英语四级单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)script [skript] n.笔迹；手稿；剧本 (英语六级单词)fitting [´fitiŋ] a.适当的 n.试衣 (英语六级单词)rigidly [´ridʒidli] ad.坚硬地；不易弯地 (英语六级单词)seriousness [´siəriəsnis] n.严肃，认真；重要性 (英语六级单词)denial [di´naiəl] n.否认；拒绝 (英语六级单词)fanatic [fə´nætik] a.狂热的 n.狂热者 (英语六级单词)tolerant [´tɔlərənt] a.宽容的，宽大的 (英语六级单词)dramatist [´dræmətist] n.剧作家；戏曲家 (英语六级单词)sexual [´sekʃuəl] a.性(欲)的 (英语六级单词)insistent [in´sistənt] a.坚持的；逼人注意的 (英语六级单词)august [ɔ:´gʌst] a.尊严的；威严的 (英语六级单词)reformer [ri´fɔ:mə] n.改革者；革新者 (英语六级单词)triple [´tripəl] a.三倍的v.增加到三倍 (英语六级单词)