The term scénario is not recorded in Littré and many other dictionaries of the nineteenth century. Larousse gives: “Scénario: theatrical vocabulary direction, figuratively: ways in which one prepares to trick, seduce, win.” Scénario was also used to speak of the action or the plot of a play, notably in a written form. It is probably on the basis of this usage that Flaubert forged the personal meaning he gave the word for narrative writing: the scenario (initial detailed workplan) contrasts with the scratching [pioche] (composition: as much the action—the act of composing—as its result: manuscripts scribbled over with crossings-out). This opposition could already be found in Balzac, in 1837, where it still denotes theatrical writing, in a passage from Les employés: “An author of plays . . . is made up first of all of a man of ideas, whose job it is to find subjects and build the scaffolding or scenario of a vaudeville play; and then a scratcher [piocheur] whose job it is to compose the play.” The terms pioche and piocheur seem themselves derived from the vocabulary of sculpture where they were used to refer to the initial work of sanding down; but a metaphorical reference to the vocabulary of the penal colonies should no doubt also be acknowledged. A lexicological study on the history and transfer of metaphors in the genetic lexicon of writers and artists is much needed.

(Biasi 1996, 50 n17)

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