Saturday, February 22, 2003 | Fiction
Five-Second Theater Proudly Presents Play on Words: A Drama in One Act
by Josh Abraham
A book-lined study. Two bearded, bespectacled men write pages with pen and ink. The tall one is MERRIAM and the short, WEBSTER. They are in a heated discussion, yet neither looks up from his notes.
Merriam: I just think ‘grey’ with an ‘e’ is fancier.
Webster: It makes no sense. Logically, ‘gray’ should be spelled with an ‘a’!
Merriam: I say, Webster, old chap, there’s no reason we can’t have two spellings.
Webster: No! We spell it my way, or I’m leaving.
Merriam: For God’s sake, Webster, you truly put the dick in dictionary.
was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat
, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.