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Born Feb. 16, 1848, or 1850, in Trévières, Calvados department; died Feb. 16, 1917, in Paris. French writer.
The son of a physician, Mirbeau graduated from the Jesuit college in Vannes. He was influenced by anarchist ideas and the aesthetics of the decadents. His first book of short stories, Letters From My Cottage (1886), is marked by a striving for truth, as are the novel Calvary (1886; Russian translation, 1908) and the anticlerical novels Abbe Jules (1888; Russian translation, 1907) and Sébastien Roch (1890; Russian translation, 1907). However, the realism of these novels is weakened by naturalistic detail and recourse to the realm of mental disorder.
In the mid-1890’s, Mirbeau established close ties with the democratic intelligentsia. Together with E. Zola, he came out in defense of Dreyfus. His play The Evil Shepherds (1897; Russian translation, 1900) centers on the struggle between workers and factory owners. His best play, Business Is Business (1903; Russian translation, The Power of Money, 1903), continues his tendency toward socially meaningful drama. Mirbeau’s last works were the book of travel essays The 628-E8 Automobile (1907; Russian translation, Automobile Journey, 1908) and the play The Hearth (1908; Russian translation, 1908), in which he satirizes bourgeois philanthropy.
WORKSOeuvres completes, vols. 1–9. Paris, 1934–36. In Russian translation: Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–10. Moscow, 1908–11.
REFERENCESIstoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.
I. IU. PODGAETSKAIA