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Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de , 1822--96, and his brother, Jules Alfred Huot de , 1830--70, French writers, noted for their collaboration, esp on their Journal, and for the Acad?mie Goncourt founded by Edmond's will
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



The brothers Edmond de Goncourt (born May 26, 1822, in Nancy; died July 16, 1896, in Champrosay) and Jules (born Dec. 17, 1830, in Paris; died there June 20, 1870). French writers.

The creative cooperation of the Goncourt brothers is unique in world literature. In the 1850’s and the 1860’s the Goncourts created—with a remarkable integration of two different literary personalities—novels, plays, studies of the history and art of the 18th century, and, finally, the Diary. Realistic and naturalistic principles of the artistic reflection of reality are interwoven in their works. Their interest in the depiction of contemporary life and their attempt to study it in detail and to convey it in their works is connected with the tradition of critical realism. The novel Charles Demailly (1860) shows the ruin of a talented man in the world of the corrupted press; in Renée Mauperin (1864) psychological analysis aids the exposure of bourgeois morals. In Soeur Philomène (1861) and in Germinie Lacerteux (1865), their best novel, the Goncourt brothers introduced the life of the “lower classes” into the sphere of artistic representation and pictured the spiritual world of the people of the “poor classes.” In the program introduction to Germinie Lacerteux the authors demanded the right to depict the tragedy of the common man. However, in proclaiming the slogan “a precise, documentary reproduction of life” in the novel, they arrived at passive observation and a naturalistic subordination to fact. Social pessimism and aristocratic indifference to politics led them away from the social conflicts of the epoch. Also inherent in the novels of the Goncourt brothers were a substitution of the typical by the everyday and of the social by the physiological, as well as an interest in pathology, all of which were characteristic of the naturalistic method. The naturalistic features were especially objectionable in their last cooperative novels, Manette Salomon (1867) and Madame Gervaisais (1869).

The main artistic achievement of the Goncourt brothers was the creation of an impressionistic manner of literature that conveyed the most subtle spiritual states and subjective sensations. By the mastery of their picturesque delineation and the expressiveness of their style the Goncourt brothers enriched the tradition of French prose. However, in their impressionistic descriptions people and objects often became only elements of a visual impression.

A retreat from the principles of realism is especially evident in the work of Edmond Goncourt after the death of his brother Jules. In the 1870’s and 1880’s, in addition to works on Japanese art (Outamaro, 1891; Hokusai, 1896), he wrote several novels, such as Chérie (1884), that revealed such features of decadence as asociality, character disintegration, and mannerism of style. His best work, the novel Les Frères Zemganno (1879; Russian translations, 1936 and 1959), is devoted to the fate of brothers who are circus artists.

The Goncourt brothers kept the Diary, which Edmond continued down to 1895; it was published in full from 1956 to 1958. The Diary contains an often subjective reflection of the literary life of the epoch and the aesthetic opinions of the Goncourt brothers and of their contemporaries.

The will of Edmond Goncourt provided that his wealth be given to the fund of an annual literary prize, which the Academy of the Goncourts awards to this day. The Goncourt Prize is one of the esteemed literary awards in France.


In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–3, 6. With an introduction by V. Gofman. Moscow, 1911–12.
Zhermini Laserte—Aktrisa: Otryvki iz dnevnika. Edited and with an introduction by N. Rykova. Leningrad, 1961.
Dnevnik . . . lzbrannye stranitsy, vols. 1–2. [Introduction by V. Shor.] Moscow, 1964.
Goncourt, Edmond. Aktrisa (La Faustin). Introduction by A. Efros. Moscow, 1933; Penza, 1957.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Zola, E. Les Romanciers naturalistes, 2nd ed. Paris, 1881.
Billy, A. Les Frères Goncourt. Paris, 1954.
Baldick, R. The Goncourts. London, 1960. (With bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


annual award for best French fiction. [Fr. Lit.: NCE, 1106]
See: Prize
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
When Flaubert privately dismissed La Fille Elisa as a "sketchy" and "anemic" novel, he was not hinting at a lack of substance on the part of his friend Edmond de Goncourt. (18) Instead, it seems that he was reacting to the almost unbearable tension between silence and language that leaves the impression of an unfinished work.
Poets were no less devoted to him, especially after their attention had been drawn to him by Edmond de Goncourt's lyrical appraisal of 1856, included, twenty years later, in the Goncourt Brothers' eloquent L'Art du dix-huitieme siecle: French criticism at its best, imaginative, emotional, derived from immense research, and superbly written.
"La thematique decadente de trois temoignages sur la Commune: Theophile Gautier, Edmond de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet." Ecrire la Commune: Temoignages, recits et romans (1871-1931).
Her study shifts from the home as a site of identity formation where she draws on Edmond de Goncourt's extraordinary narrative about his home 0881) to demonstrate how decoration was increasingly seen in the nineteenth century as an important point of individual expression (chapter one--La Maison d'un artiste: The Writer's Home as Self-Portrait).
Edmond de Goncourt, with his habitual felicity of expression, described Moreau as 'a poetic goldsmith'.
La Fille Elisa was the first of four novels that Edmond de Goncourt published alone, though the brothers originally conceived it jointly following a visit to a women's prison.
Il est, en realite, une excroissance du temperament d'artiste de Huysmans, qui comme le souligne Maarten van Buuren, considere, comme Baudelaire et Edmond de Goncourt, que l'art est le resultat de la nevrose.
Le corpus qu'etudie Bourgeois se compose d'un ensemble de textes romanesques qui decrivent des maisons-musees (Le Cousin Pons de Balzac, Bouvard et Pecuchet de Flauhert, La Maison d'un artiste d'Edmond de Goncourt et A rebours de Huysmans) et de deux domiciles transformes par leurs proprietaires en musees prives (le musee Jacquemart-Andre et le musee Gustave-Moreau).