Prosper Mérimée

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Mérimée, Prosper

 

Born Sept. 27, 1803, in Paris; died Sept. 23, 1870, in Cannes. French writer. Elected to the Academic Franchise in 1844.

Mérimée was the son of an artist. He graduated from the faculty of law at the Sorbonne in 1823. A romantic interest in exotic countries is reflected in his first work, the collection of plays The Theater of Clara Gazul (1825), which he ascribed to a fictitious Spanish comedienne. The plays contain a number of references to the contemporary French scene and are a subtle parody of the reactionary romantic theater and its melodramatic conventions.

In the collection La Guzla (1827), a pseudonymous hoax inspired by Illyrian folk songs, Merimee imitated folk art so accurately that he deceived A. Mickiewicz, as well as A. S. Pushkin, who translated the collection as Songs of the West Slavs. La Guzla is noteworthy for the author’s use of realistic techniques to reveal the personalities of heroes in conflict with society.

Mérimée was fascinated by turbulent periods in history. He wrote about French history in the chronicle-drama. The Jacquerie (1828) and in the novel Chronicle of the Reign of Charles IX (1829). In short stories written during the late 1820’s (the collection Mosaic, 1833), Mérimée depicted strong, straightforward characters who had not yet been touched by the “corrupting”influence of civilization (“Mateo Falcone”and “Tamango”) . The contemporary scene was reflected in the short stories “The Etruscan Vase”and “The Backgammon Game” (both 1830).

The emptiness and hypocrisy of bourgeois society and the power of money were depicted with irony and sarcasm in short stories and novellas written by Mérimée in the 1830’s and 1840’s, including The Double Misunderstanding,“Arsene Guillot,”and “The Abbé Aubain.”In the short stories “The Venus of Ille,”“Colomba,”and “Carmen” (1845) the author focuses on the clash between bourgeois morality and primitive but more just moral norms.

Mérimée’s prose reached its peak in the 1830’s and 1840’s. Using the techniques of the “story within a story”and introducing into the text alleged old letters or unexpected historical and philological digressions, Mérimée created a superficially calm, detached narrative style.

Mérimée’s scholarly works are distinguished by a superior literary mastery. Among them are books of essays (for example, Notes on a Journey Through the South of France, 1835), critical articles, and research on medieval architecture and on the history of ancient Rome, Spain, the Ukraine, and Russia.

After 1848, Mérimée’s creative activity declined. During his later years his interest in Russian culture increased. He became friendly with A. I. Turgenev, I. S. Turgenev, and S. A. Sobolevskii. An impassioned propagandist of Russian literature, he wrote a series of articles on Gogol, Turgenev, and Pushkin and translated many of their works. His interest in Slavic themes was reflected in the late novella, Lokis (1869). Mérimée’s works have been the basis for plays, musical comedies, and operas (for example, Bizet’s Carmen, 1875), as well as many films.

WORKS

Oeuvres completes, vols. 1-12. Paris, 1927-33. (Publication not completed.)
Romans et nouvelles, vols. 1-2, Paris [1967].
Histoire du régne de Pierre le Grand. Paris, 1947.
Correspondance générate, vols. 1-17. Paris-Toulouse, 1941-64.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch. , vols. 1-3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1933-34.
Sobr. soch. , vols. 1-6. Moscow, 1963.

REFERENCES

Vinogradov, A. K. Merime v pis’makh k Sobolevskomu. Moscow, 1928.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Trahard, P. [Mérimée], vols. 1-4. 1925-30.
Baschet, R. Mérimée. Paris, 1958.
Leon, P. Mérimée et son temps. Paris, 1962.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL PUBLICATIONS
Paevskaia, A. V., and V. T. Danchenko. Prosper Merime: Bibliografiia russkikh perevodov i kriticheskoi literatury na russkom iazyke: 1828-1967. Moscow, 1968.
Raitt, A. W. P. Mérimée. London [1970].
Trahard, P., and P. Josserand. Bibliographic des oeuvres de P. Mérimée. Paris, 1929.

A. D. MIKHAILOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Chapter 1, "Le Miroir aux alouettes de la traduction [The Lure of Translation]: Prosper Merimee [1803-1870]," examines the role of translation as a medium of and metaphor for the fantastic in an understudied literary hoax by a major French late Romantic writer.
Prosper Merimee, Chronique du regne de Charles IX, Romans et nouvelles, vol.
The author, Prosper Merimee, couldn't get the story or his experiences of Spain out of his mind and went on to publish Carmen in 1845.
Slavery and the slave trade were still prominent themes in the novels and short stories of men like Prosper Merimee, Baron Roger, and Eugene Sue, but unlike the female authors in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, these writers made no attempt to appeal to the reader's sentiment.
There can be no complaints on that score as Bizet's Carmen, based on a novel by Prosper Merimee, has a strong story that is best served in its proper setting, Seville in the 1820s.
A La Jolla Playhouse presentation of a musical in two acts with music by John Ewbank, lyrics by Ann-Marie Milazzo, book by Sarah Miles, based on the novella by Prosper Merimee.
If the short story writer Prosper Merimee had not been so thirsty and insisted on stopping at a Spanish inn, he never would have met Carmencita, and there never would have been a Carmen.
es la que suele otorgarsele a don Juan, aunque solo en aquellas versiones posteriores al encuentro, combinacion, mezcla o fusion de la leyenda con la de Miguel de Manara, union de la que es responsable Prosper Merimee (16), a quien Valle-Inclan adeuda, de manera directa o indirecta, algunas de las caracteristicas de sus versiones donjuanescas.
David Baguley investigates the relationship between Pushkin and Prosper Merimee and points out the similarities in style and choice of subject between the two men.
La apropiacion de esta expresion cultural exotica llega al extremo de la asociacion directa de su nombre con la Espana gitana castiza procedente de la novela Carmen de Prosper Merimee, novela del siglo XIX que creo uno de los mas memorables retratos de mujer fatal de todos los tiempos.
It introduces the original novelist, Prosper Merimee, as a travelling writer to whom soldier turned convicted bandit Jose (Leonardo Sbaraglia) recounts how his obsession with spitfire factory worker Carmen (Paz Vega) has brought him to the eve of execution.
The 19th-century writer Prosper Merimee is said to have called the palace "an Asiatic tyrant's citadel.