Alfred de Musset

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Musset, Alfred de

 

Born Dec. 11, 1810, in Paris; died there May 2, 1857. French writer. Member of the Académie Française (1852).

The son of a civil servant who had an interest in literature, Musset graduated from the College Henri IV. His first collection of verse, Tales of Spain and Italy (1830), attracted the attention of readers. The literary-aesthetic viewpoint of the French romantics headed by V. Hugo, which rejected the reactionary political system and obsolete literary forms, was the basis for Musset’s subsequent work. In his second collection, Armchair Theater (1832), Musset sang the praises of freedom and theomachy and mocked bourgeois political machinations. His four lyrical narrative poems, published as Nights (1835–37), were very popular; the poems express sorrowful reflections awakened by feelings of loneliness.

Musset was one of the founders of romantic theater. His historical drama Lorenzaccio (1834) and his psychological plays about love, The Caprices of Marianne (1833), One Does Not Trifle With Love (1834), and The Candlestick (1835), are distinguished by their realistic characters and dramatic tension. In Lorenzaccio, the struggle with tyranny is treated artistically. The moral perfection of the individual is the basic theme of his other plays. Russia was the first to discover Musset the dramatist. Only after his comedy The Caprices of Marianne was staged in St. Petersburg in 1837 did French theaters begin to include his plays in their repertoires.

Musset’s novel Confession of a Child of the Century (1836) reflects French society of the 1820’s and 1830’s, showing the desperate situation of the younger generation in France and expressing the bright hope that mankind will attain peace and happiness in the future.

In Russia, Musset’s works were highly valued by A. S. Pushkin, L. N. Tolstoy, A. I. Herzen, and I. S. Turgenev. His poems were translated into Russian by I. S. Turgenev, A. A. Fet, V. S. Kurochkin, A. N. Apukhtin, and V. Ia. Briusov and, in Soviet times, by V. A. Rozhdestvenskii, S. V. Shervinskii, Iu. B. Korneev, and E. L. Linetskaia.

WORKS

Oeuvres completes illustrées, vols. 1–10. Paris, 1927–29.
Oeuvres completes. Paris [1963].
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1957.
Ispoved’ syna veka, Novelly. Leningrad, 1970. (With an article by A. Andres.)

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Teterevnikova, A. “A. de Miusse.” In Pisateli Frantsii. Moscow, 1964.
Sainte-Beuve, C. “A. de Miusse.” In Literaturnye portrety: Kriticheskie ocherki. Moscow, 1970.
Gastinel, P. Le Romantisme d’A. de Musset. Paris, 1933.
Soupault, P. A. de Musset. [Paris, 1966.]
Tieghem, P. van. Musset. Paris, 1969.
Lefebvre, H. Musset, 2nd ed. Paris [1970].

M. S. TRESKUNOV