One of the most prolific playwrights of all time, the author of more than three hundred dramatic works, Eugène Scribe is best remembered as the originator of the well-made play. His insistence on expert dramatic craftsmanship and his remarkable success in pleasing the public brought him power, prestige, and wealth. While he was always sensitive to popular taste and could give his audience what it wanted, he elevated the middlebrow comedy-vaudeville both in form and in content, and he renovated serious comedy. He is also considered to be the principal inventor of grand opera. In his day, Scribe virtually controlled all the theaters in Paris and exerted a powerful influence on the next several generations of dramatists.
Perhaps his most enduring legacy to his colleagues was the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques , which he helped to establish in 1827 to protect authors’ rights and grant them a fair share of the profits. As for his dramatic technique, it has been said that for the remainder of the nineteenth century, all French drama was either a continuation of Scribe or a reaction against him. The influence took many forms, from the madcap farces of Eugène Labiche and Georges Feydeau to the problem plays of Alexandre Dumas, fils, and Émile Augier to the thrillers of Victorien Sardou, and that influence was by no means limited to France. Scribe’s drama was translated and performed with great success throughout Europe and the New World....
(The entire section is 576 words.)
Canby, Vincent. “Getting to Know Scribe as More than a Street.” Review of The Ladies’ Battle, by Eugène Scribe. The New York Times, December 25, 1995, p. A31. A review of the Pearl Theater Company’s performance of Scribe and Ernest Legouvé’s The Ladies’ Battle (entitled When Ladies Battle for the New York performance).
Cardwell, Douglas. “The Role of Stage Properties in the Plays of Eugène Scribe.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 16 (Spring/Summer, 1988): 290-309. An examination of the staging of the plays of Scribe.
Koon, Helene, and Richard Switzer. Eugène Scribe. Boston: Twayne, 1980. A basic biography of Scribe that covers his life and works. Bibliography and index.
Pendle, Karin. Eugène Scribe and French Opera of the Nineteenth Century. Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research, 1979. A looks at Scribe’s role in developing the opera of nineteenth century France. Bibliography and index.