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Electric Dolls


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AT: Poupées électriques; Electric Puppets A: F. T. Marinetti Pf: 1909, Paris (as Poupées électriques); 1926, Turin (as La donna è mobile) Pb: 1909 in French; 1926 in Italian Tr: None known G: Drama in 3 acts; French prose S: A seaside resort in the south of France, 1900s C: 7m, 6f, 2 robots (1m, 1f), extrasCount Paul de Rozières, a young naval officer on shore leave, flirts with women in a dance hall, much to the distress of his cousin Juliette, who loves him passionately, and to the annoyance of his rich American friend John Wilson, to whose wife Mary Paul is also paying court. Juliette and Paul have a tender leave-taking, but her mother reminds her that Paul, who is penniless, will have to marry a rich heiress. Juliette grows hysterical and throws herself into the sea. A year later at the Wilsons' home, two lifelike electric puppets invented by John sit at table, while John pretends to seduce Mary as a little girl. He horrifies her by pretending to be Paul, and Mary accuses him of treating her like one of his robots. To appease her, John flings the two robots in the sea, but fishermen think he is trying to murder two people, until the dummies are recovered. Paul returns, asking to see Mary. John persuades her that they should leave that very night, then kisses her violently and almost strangles her: ‘a little more and the mechanism will be broken’. When John leaves for the rendezvous with Paul, Paul appears and declares his passion for Mary. They embrace as John returns. John hands her a revolver, and she shoots herself, hoping that when she is dead, John will love her as much as he does Juliette.

AT: Poupées électriques; Electric Puppets A: F. T. Marinetti Pf: 1909, Paris (as Poupées électriques); 1926, Turin (as La donna è mobile) Pb: 1909 in French; 1926 in Italian Tr: None known G: Drama in 3 acts; French prose S: A seaside resort in the south of France, 1900s C: 7m, 6f, 2 robots (1m, 1f), extras

This is the one play written by Marinetti, famous for his championing of Futurism, whose manifesto declared: ‘Literature until now has celebrated intellectual immobility, ecstasy and sleep. We want to exalt aggressive movement, feverish insomnia,…the perilous leap, the slap in the face, and the punch of a fist.’ Curiously though, this is a conventionally structured psychological drama, its main interest (over a decade before Čapek's RUR), is the relating of human emotions to the behaviour of machines.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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