Alphonse Daudet


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Daudet, Alphonse

(älfôNs` dōdā`), 1840–97, French writer, b. Nîmes (Provence). Daudet made his mark with gentle naturalistic stories and novels portraying French life both in the provinces and in Paris. At the age of 16, after his father had suffered financial losses, he was obliged to serve as study master (maître d'études) in a school at Cévennes. With the help and encouragement of his older brother, he went to Paris, where he began his literary career with the publication of a small volume of poetry, Les Amoureuses (1857). His career was assured with the success of Lettres de mon moulin (1869, tr. Letters from My Mill, 1900), a group of delightful, Provence-inspired short stories.

Le Petit Chose (1868) is a semiautobiographical novel touchingly descriptive of his life at boarding school and sometimes compared to Dickens's David Copperfield. It was followed in rapid succession by Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon (1872), Contes du lundi (1873), Fromont jeune et Risler aîné (1874), Jack (1876), Le Nabab (1877), Les Rois en exil (1879), Numa Roumestan (1881), L'Évangeliste (1883), Sapho (1884), La Belle Nivernaise (1886), and L'Immortel (1888). Daudet was at once objective and personal, and his works, permeated by an engaging sense of humor, wistfulness, and subtle irony, were drawn largely from his own experience. Two volumes of reminiscences, Souvenirs d'un homme de lettres and Trente ans de Paris, appeared in 1888. Harrowing diaries of his lingering death from syphilis, La Doulou, were not published until 1930 (tr. In the Land of Pain, 2003). His brother, Louis Marie Ernst Daudet (1837–1921), was a historian. His son was Léon DaudetDaudet, Léon,
1867–1942, French author, most famous for his biting criticism of the Third Republic, and of democracy in general as editor of the right-wing daily Action Française with Charles Maurras.
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Bibliography

See study by M. Sachs (1965).

Daudet, Alphonse

 

Born May 13, 1840, in Nimes; died Dec. 15, 1897, in Paris. French writer. Son of a manufacturer.

In 1858, Daudet published a collection of poems entitled The Lovers. A book of short stories and sketches about Provence entitled Letters From My Mill (1869) brought him literary fame. During the 1870’s, Daudet drew close to the naturalist school, headed by E. Zola (although he never regarded himself as an exponent of naturalism). In this period he wrote a number of novels permeated with sharp social criticism, including Fromont the Younger and Risler the Elder (1874), The Nabob (1877), The Kings in Exile (1879), Numa Roumestan (1881), and Sappho (1884), in which he presented a wide panorama of the mores of the aristocratic and parliamentary circles, the well-to-do bourgeoisie, artistic bohemians, the demimonde, and to some extent the workers’ milieu of that time. The baneful influence of religious fanaticism is shown in the novel The Evangelist (1883). In the novel The Immortal (1885), Daudet ridiculed sterile official scholarship. The novels The Little Boy (1868) and Jack (1876) portray the emergence of a personality as well as problems of upbringing and education. The trilogy Tartarin of Tarascon (1872), Tartarin in the Alps (1885), and Port-Tarascon (1890) is a keen satire of philistinism. Daudet also wrote several plays, among them The Woman From Aries (1872) and The Struggle for Life (1889), as well as a series of literary memoirs entitled Reminiscences of a Man of Letters (1888) and Thirty Years In Paris (1888).

WORKS

Oeuvres completes illustrées, vols. 1-20. Paris, 1929-31.
In Russian translation:.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-7. Moscow, 1965.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Zola, E. “Al’fons Dode.” Sobr. soch., vol. 25. Moscow, 1966.
Puzikov, A. I. “Al’fons Dode i realisticheskie traditsii.” In Portrety frantsuzskikh pisatelei. Moscow, 1967.
Bornecque, J. H. Les Années d’apprentissage d’ A. Daudet. Paris, 1951.
Dobie, G. V. A. Daudet. London, 1949.
Sachs, M. The Career of A. Daudet. Cambridge (Mass.), 1965.

G. S. AVESSALOMOVA

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1) In this essay I shall be using the thoughts recorded by the nineteenth-century French novelist Alphonse Daudet in his notebooks, as a way of understanding the pain and fear of suffering from syphilis, in order to test the limitations of Scarry's claims, and in an effort to find a chink, a hope for expression and the translation of pain into words.
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