Alfred de Musset
Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (French: ; 11 December 1810 – 2 May 1857) was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist. Along with his poetry, he is known for writing La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century, autobiographical) from 1836.
- Biography 1
- Reception 2
- Music 3
- Quotations 4
- Poetry 5.1
- Plays 5.2
- Novels 5.3
- Secondary literature 5.4
- References 6
- Further reading 7
- External links 8
|French literary history|
Musset was born in Paris. His family was upper-class but poor and his father worked in various key government positions, but never gave his son any money. His mother came from similar circumstances, and her role as a society hostess – for example her drawing-room parties, luncheons and dinners held in the Musset residence – left a lasting impression on young Alfred.
Early indications of Musset's boyhood talents were seen by his fondness for acting impromptu mini-plays based upon episodes from old romance stories he had read. Years later, elder brother Paul de Musset would preserve these, and many other details, for posterity, in a biography on his famous younger brother.
Alfred de Musset entered the lycée Henri-IV at the age of nine, where in 1827 he won the Latin essay prize in the Concours général. With the help of Paul Foucher, Victor Hugo's brother-in-law, he began to attend, at the age of 17, the Cénacle, the literary salon of Charles Nodier at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. After attempts at careers in medicine (which he gave up owing to a distaste for dissections), law, drawing, English and piano, he became one of the first Romantic writers, with his first collection of poems, Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1829, Tales of Spain and Italy). By the time he reached the age of 20, his rising literary fame was already accompanied by a sulphurous reputation fed by his dandy side.
He was the librarian of the French Ministry of the Interior under the July Monarchy. During this time he also involved himself in polemics during the Rhine crisis of 1840, caused by the French prime minister Adolphe Thiers, who as Minister of the Interior had been Musset's superior. Thiers had demanded that France should own the left bank of the Rhine (described as France's "natural boundary"), as it had under Napoleon, despite the territory's German population. These demands were rejected by German songs and poems, including Nikolaus Becker's Rheinlied, which contained the verse: "Sie sollen ihn nicht haben, den freien, deutschen Rhein ..." (They shall not have it, the free, German Rhine). Musset answered to this with a poem of his own: "Nous l'avons eu, votre Rhin allemand" (We've had it, your German Rhine).
The tale of his celebrated love affair with
- Works by Alfred de Musset at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Alfred de Musset at Internet Archive
- Works by Alfred de Musset at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Sand and Musset at the Theater to Paris : "Sand et Musset, les Amants du siècle"
- The New Student's Reference Work/Musset, Alfred de
- (French) 'Lorenzaccio' - at Athena
- Auden, W.H.; Kronenberger, Louis: The Viking Book of Aphorisms (New York: Viking Press, 1966).
- His names are often reversed "Louis Charles Alfred de Musset": see "(Louis Charles) Alfred de Musset" (bio), Biography.com, 2007, webpage: Bio9413.
- "Chessville - Alfred de Musset: Romantic Player", Robert T. Tuohey, Chessville.com, 2006, webpage: Chessville-deMusset.
- "Twelve eponymous signs of aortic regurgitation, one of which was named after a patient instead of a physician.", in: The American Journal of Cardiology, vol. 93, issue 10, 15 May 2004, pp. 1332–3; by Tsung O. Cheng MD.
- (subscription required)
- Henri Lefebvre, Musset, 1955
- Mimi Pinson
- Arvede Barine, The Life of Alfred de Musset, translated by Charles Conner Hayden, 1906, Published by Edwin Hill Co.
- Histoire d'un merle blanc (The White Blackbird), 1842.
- La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century, autobiographical), 1836.
La Nuit vénitienne, 1830
- a failure; from this point until 1847, his plays were published but not performed
- André del Sarto, 1833
- Les Caprices de Marianne, 1833
- Lorenzaccio, 1833
- Fantasio, 1834
- On ne badine pas avec l'amour, 1834
- La Quenouille de Barberine, 1835
- Le Chandelier, 1835
- Il ne faut jurer de rien, 1836
Un Caprice, 1837
- first performed in 1847, and a huge success, leading to the performance of other plays
- Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée, 1845
- On ne saurait penser à tout, 1849
- Carmosine, 1850
- Bettine, 1851
- L'Âne et le Ruisseau, 1855
- Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie, 1829
- Un Spectacle dans un fauteuil, 1832
- Poésies complètes, 1840
Poésies nouvelles, 1850
- Les Nuits (Nuits de mai, d'août, d'octobre, de décembre), 1835–1837
- Œuvres posthumes, 1860
"How glorious it is - and also how painful - to be an exception." (Auden and Kronenberger 1966)
In 2007, D'elles.
Shane Briant plays Alfred de Musset in a Masterpiece Theatre production of "Notorious Woman" in 1974.
Lorenzaccio, which takes place in Medici's Florence, was set to music by the musician Sylvano Bussotti in 1972.
The opera Andrea del Sarto (1968) by French composer Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur (1908–2002) was based on Musset's play André del Sarto.
Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata (1919) is prefaced by two lines from Musset's La Nuit de Mai.
Dame Ethel Smyth composed an opera based on Fantasio that premiered in Weimar in 1898.
Ruggero Leoncavallo's symphonic poem "La Nuit de Mai" (1886) was based on Musset's poetry.
Djamileh (1871, with a libretto by Louis Gallet) is based on Musset's story Namouna. Bizet also set Musset's poem "A Une Fleur" for voice and piano.
Numerous (often French) composers wrote songs using Musset's poetry during the 19th century.
Henri Gervex's 1878 painting Rolla was based on a poem by de Musset. It was rejected by the jury of the Salon de Paris for immorality, since it depicted a scene from the poem of a naked prostitute after having sex with her client - but the controversy helped Gervex's career.
The French poet Arthur Rimbaud was highly critical of Musset's work. Rimbaud wrote in his Letters of a Seer (Lettres du Voyant) that Musset did not accomplish anything because he "closed his eyes" before the visions (Letter to Paul Demeny, May 1871).
Alfred de Musset died in his sleep in Paris in 1857. The cause was heart failure, the combination of alcoholism and a longstanding aortic insufficiency. One symptom that had been noticed by his brother was a bobbing of the head as a result of the amplification of the pulse; this was later called de Musset's sign. He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Musset was dismissed from his post as librarian by the new minister Ledru-Rollin after the revolution of 1848. He was however appointed librarian of the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1853.