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Georges Feydeau (1862–1921)

Author of A Flea in Her Ear

Includes the names: Feydeau George, Georges Feydeau, Georges Feydeau, Georges L-Eon Jules Marie Feydeau

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Georges Feydeau was born to Ernest Feydeau, a renowned French writer and scholar, and Léocadie Zalewska (Lodzia Slewska), a Polishwoman. Paris at that time was the intellectual and artistic capital of the western world, and Feydeau aspired at an early age to join its theatrical life. After his first comic monologue written at age 20, Par la fenêtre (Through the Window, 1882), he composed two one-act plays that won praise from critics, but failed to do well at the box office. His first major theatrical success was a three-act work, Tailleur pour dames (Ladies’ Dressmaker, 1886). In 1889, he married Marianne Carolus-Duran, the daughter of a wealthy painter.
Feydeau then had the means to stop writing for a while in order to study authors who had succeeded in farce. The result was Champignol malgré lui (Champignol in Spite of Himself, 1892), which became a major success and made Feydeau famous both in France and overseas. He became the most popular French playwright of his era. A Flea in Her Ear (La Puce à l’oreille, 1907) become his most popular play in English-speaking countries. He wrote a total of 39 plays during his career. While his works are known for their nonsense, fantasy, and bedroom farce, they also feature a sense of madness and geometric precision. Feydeau and his wife divorced in 1916, and their unhappy marriage is perhaps reflected in his last five short plays, in which the wife persecutes her husband almost to the point of madness. Feydeau himself suffered from melancholia and in 1919 moved to a sanatorium for treatment; he died insane in 1921.

Twenty years later, his play Feu la mère de madame (Madame’s Late Mother) entered the repertory of the Comédie-Française, soon to be followed by some of his other plays, thus validating him as a modern classic.

Some critics see in Feydeau's work a precursor to Dadaism, Surrealism, and Theatre of the Absurd. They are still performed regularly.
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