Octave Mirbeau

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mirbeau, Octave


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.


Oeuvres completes, vols. 1–9. Paris, 1934–36. In Russian translation: Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–10. Moscow, 1908–11.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Huysmans, Gustave Flaubert, Maurice Barres, Octave Mirbeau, Paul Verlaine and Charles Baudelaire.
Articles published in La Revue Blanche, L'Echo de Paris, and Le Journal by some of the biggest names in French literature of the era such as Octave Mirbeau, Jean Lorrain, Paul Adam, Laurent Tailhade and Hughes Rebell, as well as a small number of influential critics including Henry Bauer, Paul Roche and Louis Lormel, (2) contributed to that discussion.
In La 628-E8 (1907), Octave Mirbeau, a master of iconoclastic, decadent novels such as Le Jardin des supplices (1899), recounts his fantastic experiences zipping around Europe in an early automobile.
The lethal femme-fleur and the parallel between floral cultivation, cruelty, and the putrefaction of flesh are all motifs that recur in Octave Mirbeau's novel Le Jardin des supplices (1894), in which the femme-fleur Clara leads the narrator through the eponymous "jardin des supplices," demonstrating that it draws its robust growth from compost made from the putrefaction of Chinese prisoners who have died of torture and starvation (Mirbeau 169-86).
The avant-garde playwright/director John Jahnke, with a wicked grin, describes Men Go Down (Part 3) as "almost like a Noel Coward absurdist Victorian chamber drama--style series of odd events." In this elliptical, Greek myth-inspired fairy tale, a cocaine-addicted king, Endymion, wakes after a 1,500-year sleep in a Turkish hotel and finds himself trapped in a decadent world, circa 1893, that calls to mind a satirical novel by Octave Mirbeau or Oscar Wilde.
The Frenchmen mentioned are Felix Feneron, Remy de Gourmont, Octave Mirbeau, Stuart Merrill, Adolphe Rette and Marcel Schwob; but there was a considerable degree of variation in the relations of these men with anarchism, with Wilde and even with Symbolism.
Octave Mirbeau, writing in 1901 well after the event, stated that it was Servais who sought out the poet sometime between January and August 1877, perhaps at one of the regular Saturday meetings of Leconte de Lisle's Paris salon.
105-110) juxtaposed with the much more adult concoction/confection, Octave Mirbeau's Le Jardin des Supplices (Torture Garden).
While Gabriel Sarrazin, Edouard Rod, and William Ritter were so enthusiastic that they transposed themes and images culled directly from the Pre-Raphaelites into descriptive sequences in their own novels, Camille Mauclair could be dismissive and Octave Mirbeau was invariably scathing Yet the fictional works of both these writers also contain allusive evocations of the paintings they affected to despise, so they too paid homage of a kind.