Sunday, September 03, 2006
Read The Confession of a Child of the Century by Alfred Musset, one of three of his works, in French and English, available from Project Gutenberg
Alfred Louis Charles de Musset Biography
Musset was born and died in Paris. He entered the collège Henri-IV at the age of nine, where in 1837 he won the Latin essay prize in the Concours général. With the help of Paul Foucher, Victor Hugo's brother-in-law, he began to attend, at the age of 17, the Cénacle, the literary salon of Charles Nodier at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. After attempts at careers in medicine (which he gave up owing to a distaste for dissections), law, drawing, English and piano, he became one of the first Romantic writers. By the time he reached the age of 20, his rising literary fame was already accompanied by a sulphurous reputation fed by his dandy side.
He was the librarian of the French Ministry of the Interior under the July Monarchy, but was dismissed in 1848. He then became the librarian of the Ministry of Public Instruction during the Second Empire. He received the Légion d'honneur on April 24, 1845, at the same time as Balzac, and was elected to the Académie française in 1852 (after two failures to do so in 1848 and 1850).
The tale of his celebrated love affair with George Sand, which lasted from 1833 to 1835, is told from his point of view in his autobiographical novel, La Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle, and from her point of view in her Elle et lui.
On his death in 1857, Musset was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
The French poet Arthur Rimbaud was highly critical of Musset's work. Rimbaud wrote in his Letters of a Seer (Lettres du Voyant) that Musset did not accomplish anything because he "closed his eyes" before the visions. (Lettre à Paul Demeny, mai 1871) On the other hand, director Jean Renoir's La règle du jeu was inspired by his play, Les Caprices de Marianne.