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WSG to The Era, Oct. 16, 1897 (issue 3082), p. 14


To the Editor of The Era.

Sir, – I learn from a paragraph in this week’s World that an Edinburgh interviewer has made me say, "I hear Sydney Grundy put on the same level as Arthur Pinero, while the fact is that Mr. Grundy is only a translator.  He is a creditable translator, but to put him on a level with Mr. Pinero is a monstrous injustice."  As I have no feeling but good will towards Mr. Grundy, I shall feel obliged if you will allow me to state what actually took place.

Asked by the interviewer what, in my opinion, was the prevailing error in modern dramatic criticism, I replied that it was a tendency to place a good adaptation on the same level with a good original play – a manifest injustice to the original author; for whereas no form of fictional composition is more difficult than an intellectual original play which shall succeed, in spite of its intellectual quality, in commanding the approval of the public, nothing is easier than to translate or adapt a play from some foreign source; and I referred to Mr. Grundy as one instance of an author whose excellent adaptations had been so treated.  The question of the precise status to which Mr. Grundy’s original plays are to be assigned did not arise between us.  I spoke of Mr. Grundy simply in his capacity as a skilful adaptor, and I referred to his adaptations for no other reason than that he is among adaptors what Mr. Pinero is among original dramatists – facile princeps.

  I am, your obedient servant,
    W. S. GILBERT.
Harrow Weald, Oct. 12th, 1897.

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