23 DECEMBER 1905, Page 23

The History of Theatrical Art in Ancient and Modern Times,

By Karl Mantzius. Authorised Translation by Louise Von Cossel. Vol. IV. (Duckworth and Co. 10s. Gd. net.)—This fourth volume (out of a contemplated total of six) is given to "Moliere and his Times." This, we are warned, is not to be taken as a biography of Moliere, nor as an appreciation of his work as a dramatist. It tells us, it is true, a good deal about the first, and something about the second ; but the chief purpose is to give a picture "of the background of theatrical history and of the milieu in which the great actor-manager lived." We shall frankly say that le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle. The book is largely a chronique scandaleuse, telling us a great deal more than we care to hear about the private lives, the intrigues, amours, quarrels, and friendships of the actors and actresses of the day- If any one, for any reason, desires to know what Moliere and his contemporaries really were, he will find all that he wants here.