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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the joint pen name of two French writers. Emile Erckmann was born May 20, 1822, in Phalsbourgh, Moselle Department, and died Mar. 14, 1899, in Lunéville, Meurthe Department. Charles Alexandre Chatrian was born Dec. 18, 1826, in Soldatenthal, Meurthe Department, and died Sept. 3, 1890, in Villemomble, Seine Department.

Erckmann studied law in Paris from 1842 to 1846. Chatrian graduated from a college in Phalsbourgh. Their first collection of short stories, Fantastic Tales, was published in 1849. Their early stories are based on Alsatian folk legends and are written in the style of E. T. A. Hoffmann. The novels Maitre Daniel Rock (1861; Russian translation, 1869) and The Story of a Schoolmaster (1871) and many of their short stories depict scenes from peasant life, in particular, the daily life and customs of the simple people of Alsace-Lorraine. The best of Erckmann-Chatrian’s works are their patriotic and historical novels. The authors, harshly critical of the militaristic and antidemocratic policies of the Second Empire, favored a republican regime. They expressed their political views in novels dealing with the French Revolution and the First Empire, for example, Crazy Yég of (1862), The Conscript of 1813 (1864), Waterloo (1865), and The Story of a Peasant (vols. 1–4; 1868–70). The Story of a Man of the People (1865) depicts the Revolution of 1848 in Paris. Several of their patriotic historical novels portray the tragic events of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), notably, The Story of the Plebiscite (1872), The Brigadier Frédéric (1874), and The Outcast (1882).

The significance of Erckmann-Chatrian’s work in literary history lies in their portrayal of the life and psychology of the rural working people. Erckmann-Chatrian also wrote plays, dramatizations of some of their own novels, and the librettos for comic operas. Numerous works by Erckmann-Chatrian have been translated into Russian.


Contes et romans nationaux et populaires, vols. 1–14. [Paris, 1962–63.]
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch. [books 1–20]. Petrograd [1915].
Parizhskie barrikady. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Tereza. Moscow, 1963.
Istoriia odnogo krestianina, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1967.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Pisarev, D. I. “Frantsuzskii krest’ianin v 1789 godu.” In Soch., vol. 4. Moscow, 1956.
Viurmser, A. Ne posmotret’ li na izvestnoe po-novomu. Moscow, 1975.
Zola, E. “Erkman-Shatrian.” In Sobr. soch., vol. 24. Moscow, 1966.
Benoit-Guyod, G. La Vie et I’oeuvre d’ Erckmann-Chatrian. Paris, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Erckmann-Chatrian. In Les Courbezon, the French Vicar of Wakefield, as Sainte-Beuve declared, with this imposing background, the Church and the world, as they shape themselves in the Cevennes, the priest and the peasant, occupy about an equal share of interest.
2) A single text may be composed by more than one actual individual; Genette notes the cases of "the brothers Goncourt or Tharaud, of Erckmann-Chatrian, or of Boileau-Narcejac" (147), and states that none of these examples show signs of multiple authorship.
(6) But numerous other authors were subjected to similar treatment at the hands of their publishers in the last third of the nineteenth century, from Guy de Maupassant and Leon Bloy to Alphonse Daudet and Erckmann-Chatrian. Even the quintessential "intellectual" Zola acceded to such editing, as seen in this excerpt from a letter to the editor Arsene Houssaye regarding the publication of his novel Therese Raquin in L'Artiste in 1867: "Je n'impose nullement tel out tel passage, j'accepte a l'avance toutes les coupures, je consens a ce que l'on chatre mon roman de facon a lui oter la virilite qu'il peut avoir [...].
Music for a short film, scenario adapted by Koechlin from the story by Erckmann-Chatrian 23 10.23-12.6.34 5 No.
(12) The History of a Peasant by Erckmann-Chatrian.
Similarly in Die Judenbuche, where the murder of the Jew Aaron is investigated like any criminal case involving a Christian victim: 'Apparently a Jew was considered [...] a real person towards whom one had normal ethical responsibilities.' Starting with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Galician stories, continuing with the well-established and much-researched canon of nineteenth-century literature featuring Jewish characters (Hauff's Jud Suss, Gutzkow, Droste, Hebbel, Freytag, Raabe, Ebner-Eschenbach, Saar), and concluding with the Alsatian writers Erckmann-Chatrian, Massey traces such 'normal' portrayals of Jews and of genuine interest in them.
In criticizing the naturalistic novels of Emile Erckmann-Chatrian, he actually cites the "Narration or Description?" essay in order to underscore the problem of peopling historical novels with "average" protagonists (Historical Novel 212).
The uncertain status of Alsace-Lorraine, which was German from 1871 to 1918, justifies a chapter on the once-famous Alsatian novelists known as Erckmann-Chatrian, whose work contains many affectionate portraits of Jews alongside some anti-Semitic stereotyping.