Sarah Bernhardt’s First American Theatrical Tour, 1880–1881
About the Book
On October 15, 1880, with great excitement and fanfare, two Sarah Bernhardts set sail for New York from Le Havre for a theatrical tour of the United States. One wanted to introduce French culture to a backward country, and the other wanted to make money. As an actress, she behaved in a fashion that amused and scandalized her audiences, and as a woman, she was an unwed mother and a shrewd businessperson. Bernhardt’s multiple personas and “otherness” were what fascinated the American public; her name, her eccentricities, and her genius had already made her world famous.
Sarah Bernhardt’s first American theatrical tour, from her arrival in 1880 to her return to Europe in May 1881, is chronicled here. She traveled as far west as Kansas City and as far south as New Orleans, all the while sparking cultural commentary about her performances, her artwork, and her lifestyle. This book provides an overview of the contemporary reviews, caricatures and satires, considers Bernhardt’s reception by the American press and American audiences, and discusses the way in which the Bernhardt iconography was created and the assumptions that underlie it.
About the Author(s)
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
Table of Contents
1. Lady Liberty Sets Sail 9
2. Sarah and the Four Hundred 33
3. “Bust-on” Beans and Other Delicacies 60
4. “Ehue, Jaques! How frail we are!”: Bernhardt and the Sympathetic Barbarians 80
5. “We are hardly good colonists”: Bernhardt’s Southern Odyssey 109
6. “We be men of little wit”: Audiences in the Midwest 130
7. Home, Sweet Home 156
Appendix I. Plays Performed in the United States (1880–1881) 175
Appendix II. Bernhardt’s Traveling Art Show 176
Appendix III. Performance Chronology 178
Book Reviews & Awards
“thoughtful, thorough periodical scholarship”—Victorian Periodicals Review.