Business is business () is a French comedy in three acts, by the novelist and playwright Octave Mirbeau, performed in April 1903 on the stage of Com die-Fran aise, in Paris, and worldwide acclaimed, especially in Russia, Germany and United States.
An English-language adaption by Sydney Grundy was produced in London in 1905. An English translation, by Richard Hand, has been published by Intellect Books : Two Plays: Business is Business and Charity , January 2012, 147 pages (ISBN: 9781841504865).
Comedy of manners
That work is a classical comedy of manners, with characters, in the tradition of Moli re, where Mirbeau criticizes the French society of the Third Republic and the world of business, legal kind of gangsterism.
When the play was presented in Paris during the 1994-5 season (400 performances), comments were that business and scandals are no different today than they were 100 years ago.
The fable is built around the main character, symbolically named Isidore Lechat. He is a predator without any scruples, predecessor of the modern masters of business intrigue, a brasseur d'affaires and money-grubber, who is a product of the new world, a figure who makes money from everything and spreads his tentacles out over the world. He sacrifices his children in his obsession to get more and more money and power: Lechat insists upon purchasing an aristocratic husband for his daughter Germaine, and upon making his corrupted son Xavier the leader of Parisian society, paying for him fabulous gambling debts. Can there be anything that money won't buy?
Business is business, Com die-Fran aise, April 1903
But allmighty Lechat, in spite of his 50 millions francs, is powerless in front of death (his son is killed in a motor-car accident), as well as in front of love (his daughter Germaine rejects a "beautiful" marriage he just arranged and runs away with her moneyless lover, Lucien Garraud). Lechat, in a shakespearian final scene, is overwhelmed by the shattering of his plans, but overwhelmed especially by the mortal blow to his vanity.
- Philippe Baron, Les Corbeaux, d Henry Becque, et Les affaires sont les affaires, d Octave Mirbeau , Cahiers Octave Mirbeau, n 8, 2001, p. 199-210.
- Pierre Michel, Foreword to Les affaires sont les affaires, ditions de Septembre-Archimbaud, 1994, pp. 7-17.
- Pierre Michel, Vauperdu, le premier manuscrit de Les affaires sont les affaires , Cahiers Octave Mirbeau, n 10, pp. 233-255.
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