Born June 10, 1832, in Le Puy-en-Velay, Haute-Loire Department; died Feb. 14, 1885, in Paris. French writer and political figure. Left-wing Proudhonist.
Vallès was the son of a provincial schoolteacher. He was a member of the First International. From 1849 he lived in Paris, where he took part in the resistance of republican groups to the coup d’etat of Dec. 2, 1851. Under the Second Empire he actively opposed the Bonapartist regime. In his pamphlet Money (1857), Vallès exposed the financial plutocracy and demanded the social reconstruction of the world. He was persecuted, and during the 1860’s he wrote about the difficult lot of the intelligentsia (the essays The Rebellious, 1865, and The Street, 1866) and the struggle of the peasants against the landed aristocracy (the novella The Gentleman, 1869, published in 1932). At the end of the 1860’s, Vallès published the democratic newspapers La Rue and Le Peuple. After the Revolution of Sept. 4, 1870, he founded the newspaper Le Cri du Peuple. Vallès took part in the uprising of Mar. 18, 1871. He became a member of the Paris Commune of 1871 and its Commission on Education. He belonged to the minority of the Commune. Under the Commune Vallès resumed publication of Le Cri du Peuple, which had been suppressed on Mar. 12, 1871.
After the Paris Commune was crushed, Vallès emigrated to Great Britain. In the book of essays The London Streets (1884; Russian translation, 1926) and the novel Hunger in Buzançais (published in 1919; Russian translation, 1936), Vallès approached an understanding of the historical role of the working class. As a result of the amnesty of 1880, he was able to return to France that same year. Beginning in 1883 he resumed publication of his newspaper Le Cri du Peuple, on which the Guèsdists collaborated. The best literary work by Vallès is his autobiographical trilogy Jacques Vingtras (part 1— The Child, 1879, under the pseudonym Jean La Rue, Russian translation, 1936; part 2— The Bachelor, 1881, Russian translation, 1913; part 3— The Insurgent, 1886, published posthumously, Russian translation, 1949). It is devoted to the background and history of the Paris Commune. Vallès opposed naturalism as well as decadence (his article “The Illusionists,” 1867). He believed that the purpose of art was to serve the interests of working people (Poetry for the People, 1881) and work for the liberation of peoples (The Children of the People, 1879).
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Sobr. soch. [Moscow-Leningrad] 1936.
REFERENCESSIstoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
“Biobibliographie de J. Vallès.” Europe, December 1957, no. 144.
“Jules Vallès.” Europe, June-August 1968, nos. 470-472.
Pillu, P. “Etat présent des travaux sur J. Vallès.” Information littéraire, January-February 1966, no. 1.
V. S. LOZOVETSKII