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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti:

“Thus from the first edition of this little book, I might offer (speaking not ironically but seriously) to dramatic authors and theatrical managers, 10,000 scenarios, totally different from those used repeatedly upon our stage in the last 50 years. The scenarios will be, needless to say, of a realistic and effective character. I will contract to deliver a thousand in eight days. For the production of a single gross, but 24 hours are required. Prices quoted on single dozens...

“But I hear myself accused, with much violence, of an intent to ‘kill imagination! Enemy of fancy! Destroyer of wonders! Assassin of prodigy!’ These and similar titles cause me not a blush.”

— George Polti, 36 Dramatic Situations

Georges Polti didn’t mean to set the world on fire. A French theater critic, he had heard that only 36 dramatic situations were possible upon the stage, and he set out to confirm it. He analyzed centuries of plays and novels. The result was a classification, a thesaurus of dramatic scenes.

But what an uproar it caused. From delighted writers, on the one hand, who had the full range of dramatic material placed at their fingertips; to outraged critics, on the other, who resented creative ideas being counted and fenced like a herd of cattle. And the debate rages on to this very day.

(c) PulpCompanion

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