Georges Feydeau

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Georges Feydeau

Georges Feydeau (born December 8, 1862 in Paris , † June 5, 1921 in Rueil-Malmaison ) was a French playwright . His precisely constructed stage comedies are considered the last climax of vaudeville , shortly before this form of entertainment disappeared.

Feydeau's career spanned the period from 1886 to 1916, when he was one of the most successful authors of the vaudeville. His comedies such as The Dressmaker and The Flea in the Ear often aim at the double standards of the new bourgeoisie. In later years personal problems and financial difficulties increasingly limited Feydeau's productivity. After a long illness he died mentally deranged in a sanatorium .


Childhood and adolescence

Georges Feydeau was born on December 8, 1862, the son of the French writer Ernest and the Polish Léocadie Feydeau, née Zelewska, in Paris. The couple had married in 1861. The Léocadie (or Lodzia) described as unusually beautiful is rumored to have a relationship with the half-brother of Napoléon III. , Charles de Morny . That even Napoléon III. could even be the father of her son, she refused: “Look at my Georges! How can such an intelligent boy be the son of such a stupid ruler? ”Rumors of extramarital affairs never broke off.

Ernest Feydeau, who frequented the circles of Gustave Flaubert , Théophile Gautier and Alexandre Dumas , was only an insignificant writer himself. Ernest Feydeau lost most of his money to speculation on the stock market. Profits were quickly consumed by moving to more luxurious homes. Visiting the theater together with the eight-year-old son awakened a passion for the theater in Georges. Ernest Feydeau died in 1873.

After Ernest Feydeau's widow married the theater critic Henri Fouquier in 1876, Georges went to boarding school. He was a poor student and most of his attention was on the pieces he began to write. He also organized performances with the acting troupe he founded. His first piece, the one-act play Amour et piano , had its very successful premiere in 1883. Shortly afterwards, he left school and began his one-year military service.

Career as an author

With no assets or income of his own, he took up a position as secretary at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in 1885 . The theater director Fernand Samuel (actually Adolphe Louveau) was an old friend of Feydeau. Samuel also made it possible for Feydeau in 1886 to perform his first full-length piece Tailleur pour dames ( The Dressmaker ) there, which was written while he was still in military service. The overwhelming success of the production could not be repeated in the following years with further pieces. Feydeau got into financial trouble.

He met and fell in love with his attractive daughter Marianne through the successful portrait painter Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran . With her fortune, she helped him through the difficult time when Feydeau left his writing activities to study the techniques of the most important vaudeville authors. A few years later he finally presented two plays to the directors of the successful Palais-Royal theater, of which Monsieur Chasse was immediately included in the program. The second piece, Champignol malgré lui , was rejected as too absurd and implausible: "Take our advice and burn it."

The director of the Nouveautés, a theater that was about to close after a series of failures, was so convinced of this comedy that he immediately put it on the rehearsal schedule. The premiere of Champignol malgré lui in 1892 was a triumph, which was soon followed by the successful premiere of Monsieur Chasse at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal . The two pieces were the start of a series of successes that made Feydeau the most popular vaudeville author in Paris at the turn of the century.

In 1889 he married Marianne, with whom he had four children: Germaine (* 1890), Jacques (* 1892), Michel (* 1900) and Jean-Pierre (* 1903). In the early years of the 20th century, domestic happiness seemed to be turning. When Feydeau wasn't writing, most of his time was spent outside of the house at rehearsals, in the coffee house, and late at night at the Maxim. Due to speculation on the stock exchange and his addiction to gambling, Feydeau repeatedly ran into financial difficulties despite the great success of his plays. In 1901 he was forced to sell parts of his impressive art collection, including works by Paul Cézanne , Claude Monet , Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh . Theater scholars see the influence of private crises in the bitter later works of Feydeau, beginning with Feu la mère de Madame (1908). In 1909, after a serious argument with his wife, they split up. Feydeau spent the next ten years at the Hotel Terminus near Gare Saint-Lazare. His productivity continued to decline until his last piece, Hortense a dit: Je m'en fous! ( Hortense said you can check me out ... ) came out. His divorce became official that year.

Sickness and death

He contracted syphilis, probably from a prostitute . The long-term consequences led to eccentric behavior and delusions, whereupon his family was forced to admit him to a sanatorium. There he died two years later on June 5, 1921, mentally deranged. He completed about 23 or 24 full-length pieces and 21 one-act plays.

Works (selection)

Scene from La Dame de chez Maxim
  • Daniel. Roman ("Daniel"). Hasselberg Verlag, Berlin 1859.
  • A first appearance in great opera. Parisian moral novel (“Un début à l'opéra”). Markgraf & Müller, Vienna 1864.
  • The Countess of Chalis ("La comtesse de Châlis ou les mœurs du jour"). Scherl, Berlin 1913.
  • Catherine. Roman ("Catherine d'Overmeire"). Hasselberg Verlag, Berlin 1860.
  • The dancer's husband. Parisian moral novel in three sections ("Le mari de la danseuse"). Margrave, Vienna 1862.
  • A young woman's novel. Roman ("Le roman d'une jeune mariée"). Zander publishing house, Leipzig 1868.
  • The horror of love. Moral novel ("Les tragiques amours"). Tendler, Vienna 1868.
  • Sylvia. Episode from Parisian life ("Sylvie"). Hasselberg Verlag, Berlin 1861.
  • Through the window. One act ("Par la fenêtre"). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1961.
  • Love & piano. Comedy in one act (“Amour et piano”). Sessler, Munich 1985.
  • Gallows birds ("Gibier de potence"). Lauke, Munich 1996.
  • Fiancés en herbe. Comédie en un acte . Librairie théatrale, Paris 1976, ISBN 2-7349-0021-1 .
  • The dressmaker. Comedy in three acts (“Tailleur pour dames”). Ahn & Simrock, Wiesbaden 1970.
  • The pig in a poke. Vaudeville in three acts (“Chat en poche”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1960.
  • The wooers of Loches. Vaudeville in three acts ("Les Fiancés de Loches"). Ahn & Simrock, Munich 1973.
  • The Edward affair. Comedy in three acts (“L'affaire Édouard”). Ahn & Simrock, Wiesbaden 1973 (together with Maurice Desvallières ).
  • The wedding of the Barillon. Comedy in three acts (“Le Mariage de Barillon”). Ahn & Simrock, Wiesbaden 1969 (together with Maurice Desvallières).
  • Monsieur Chasse or how to hunt rabbits. Comedy in three acts (“Monsieur Chasse”). Kiepenheuer, Berlin 1970.
  • A block on the leg. Comedy in three acts (“Un fil à la patte”). Ahn & Simrock, Munich 1967.
  • Our future. Comedy in one act (“Notre futur”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1971.
  • Hotel at the free exchange rate. Comedy in three acts (“L'Hôtel du libre échange”). Ahn & Simrock, Wiesbaden 1972.
  • The duped ("Le Dindon"). Lauke, Munich 1996.
  • The servant as a hypnotist. Farce in one act (“Dormez, je le veux!”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1973.
  • The Lady from Maxim. A farce in three acts (“La dame de chez Maxim”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1970.
  • It's your turn, I'll pass. Piece in four acts (“La main passe”). Henschelverlag, Berlin 1988.
  • The flea in the ear. Fickle and grotesque comedy in three acts (“La puce à l'oreille”). Theaterverlag Mahnke, Verden / Aller 1998 (first performance March 2, 1907, Paris, Théâtre des Nouveautés).
  • Take care of Amélie. A piece in four pictures (“Occupe-toi d'Amélie”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1975.
  • Don't always run around stark naked! Farce in one act (“Mais ne te promène donc pas toute nue!”). Ahn & Simrock, Berlin 1963.
  • Champignol against will ("Champignol malgré lui"). Ahn & Simrock, Wiesbaden 1972.
  • System Ribadier. Comedy in three acts (“Le système Ribadier”). Ahn & Simrock, Munich 1983.
  • Duchess Crevette. Schwank in four acts ("La duchesse des Folies-Bergères"). Ahn, Berlin 1905.
  • The race. Comedy in three acts (four images) (“Le circuit”). Ahn 6 Simrock, Munich 1982.
  • Baby didn't do anything. Piece in one act (“On purge bébé!”). Henschelverlag, Berlin 1978.
  • I am not cheating on my husband. Comedy in three acts (“Je ne trompe pas mon mari”). Ahn & Simrock, Munich 1987.
  • Hortense doesn't give a damn about that. Comedy in one act ("Hortense à dit: je m'en fous!"). Theater Verlag Mahnke, Verden / Aller 2002.
  • Un bain de ménage . 1888.
  • C'est une femme du monde . 1890.
  • Le Ruban . 1894.
  • Les Pavés de l'ours . 1896.
  • Séance de nuit . 1897.
  • The golden age ("L'âge d'or"). 1905.
  • On va faire la cocotte . 1913 (first act; unfinished)


Web links

Commons : Georges Feydeau  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b See Pronko, p. 99.
  2. See Pronko, p. 100.
  3. a b See Pronko, p. 101.
  4. On va faire la cocotte