Alphonse Daudet

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Alphonse Daudet
Alphonse Daudet 2.jpg
Born(1840-05-13)13 May 1840
Nîmes, France
Died16 December 1897(1897-12-16) (aged 57)
Paris, France
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, playwright, poet
Literary movement Naturalism

Signature Signature Alphonse Daudet.svg

Alphonse Daudet (French:  [dodɛ] ; 13 May 1840 16 December 1897) was a French novelist. He was the husband of Julia Daudet(Mastani) and father of Edmée Daudet, and writers Léon Daudet and Lucien Daudet.

Julia Daudet French writer, journalist and poet

Julia Daudet, born Julia Allard on 13 July 1844 and died on 23 April 1940, was a French writer, poet and journalist. She was the wife and collaborator of Alphonse Daudet, mother of Léon Daudet, Lucien Daudet and Edmée Daudet.

Léon Daudet French journalist and writer

Léon Daudet was a French journalist, writer, an active monarchist, and a member of the Académie Goncourt.

Lucien Daudet French writer

Lucien Daudet was a French writer, the son of Alphonse Daudet and Julia Daudet. Although a prolific novelist and painter, he was never really able to trump his father's greater reputation and is now primarily remembered for his ties to fellow novelist Marcel Proust. Daudet was also friends with Jean Cocteau.


Early life

Alphonse Daudet, circa 1860 Alphonse Daudet 3.jpg
Alphonse Daudet, circa 1860

Daudet was born in Nîmes, France, Yo. [1] His family, on both sides, belonged to the bourgeoisie . His father, Vincent Daudet, was a silk manufacturer — a man dogged through life by misfortune and failure. Alphonse, amid much truancy, had a depressing boyhood. In 1856 he left Lyon, where his schooldays had been mainly spent, and began his career as a schoolteacher at Alès, Gard, in the south of France. The position proved to be intolerable and Daudet said later that for months after leaving Alès he would wake with horror, thinking he was friend of Cervantes.

Nîmes Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Nîmes is a city in the Occitanie region of southern France. It is the capital of the Gard department. Nîmes is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Cévennes mountains. The estimated population of Nîmes is 146,709 (2012).

Bourgeoisie polysemous French term which denotes the wealthy stratum of the middle class that originated during the latter part of the Middle Ages

The bourgeoisie is a polysemous French term that can mean:

Silk fine, lustrous, natural fiber produced by the larvae of various silk moths, especially the species Bombyx mori

Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture). The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors.

On 1 November 1857, he abandoned teaching and took refuge with his brother Ernest Daudet, only some three years his senior, who was trying, "and thereto soberly," to make a living as a journalist in Paris. Alphonse took to writing, and his poems were collected into a small volume, Les Amoureuses (1858), which met with a fair reception. He obtained employment on Le Figaro , then under Cartier de Villemessant's energetic editorship, wrote two or three plays, and began to be recognized in literary communities as possessing distinction and promise. Morny, Napoleon III's all-powerful minister, appointed him to be one of his secretaries — a post which he held till Morny's death in 1865. [2]

Ernest Daudet French writer

Louis-Marie Ernest Daudet was a French journalist, novelist and historian. Prolific in several genres, Daudet began his career writing for magazines and provincial newspapers all over France. His younger brother was Alphonse Daudet.

Journalist person who collects, writes and distributes news and other information

A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist's work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. For example, a sports journalist covers news within the world of sports, but this journalist may be a part of a newspaper that covers many different topics.

<i>Le Figaro</i> French daily newspaper

Le Figaro is a French daily morning newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. Le Figaro is the oldest national daily in France and is one of the three French newspapers of record, along with Le Monde and Libération.

Literary career

Daudet's mill Windmill of Alphonse Daudet.JPG
Daudet's mill

In 1866, Daudet's Lettres de mon moulin (Letters from My Windmill), written in Clamart, near Paris, and alluding to a windmill in Fontvieille, Provence,[ citation needed ] won the attention of many readers. The first of his longer books, Le Petit Chose (1868), did not, however, produce popular sensation. It is, in the main, the story of his own earlier years told with much grace and pathos. The year 1872 brought the famous Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon , and the three-act play L'Arlésienne . But Fromont jeune et Risler aîné (1874) at once took the world by storm. It struck a note, not new certainly in English literature, but comparatively new in French. His creativeness resulted in characters that were real and also typical. [2]

Clamart Commune in Île-de-France, France

Clamart is a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 8.7 km (5.4 mi) from the center of Paris.

Windmill machine that converts the energy of wind into rotational energy

A windmill is a mill that converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Centuries ago, windmills usually were used to mill grain (gristmills), pump water (windpumps), or both. There are windmills that convert the rotational energy directly into heat. The majority of modern windmills take the form of wind turbines used to generate electricity, or windpumps used to pump water, either for land drainage or to extract groundwater. Windmills first appeared in Persia in the 9th century AD, and were later independently invented in Europe.

Fontvieille, Bouches-du-Rhône Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Fontvieille is a commune in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France.

Jack, a novel about an illegitimate child, a martyr to his mother's selfishness, which followed in 1876, served only to deepen the same impression. Henceforward his career was that of a successful man of letters, mainly spent writing novels: Le Nabab (1877), Les Rois en exil (1879), Numa Roumestan (1881), Sapho (1884), L'Immortel (1888), and writing for the stage: reminiscing in Trente ans de Paris (1887) and Souvenirs d'un homme de lettres (1888). The late nineteenth century English novelist George Gissing, who read numerous Daudet novels in the original French, bought L'Immortel in July 1888 and wrote in his diary that he [gloried] "in the thought of reading it". On finishing it six days later, however, he wrote that he had "private doubts" about it. [3] These works, with the three Tartarins [4] - Tartarin de Tarascon , Tartarin sur les Alpes , Port-Tarascon - and the short stories, written for the most part before he had acquired fame and fortune, constitute his life work. [2] Gissing subsequently wrote about the later work La Petite Paroisse, published in 1895, was "a sad falling away from the old Daudet. No character that is a creation". [5]

George Gissing English novelist

George Robert Gissing was an English novelist who published 23 novels between 1880 and 1903. Gissing also worked as a teacher and tutor throughout his life. He published his first novel, Workers in the Dawn, in 1880. His best known novels, which are published in modern editions, include The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891), and The Odd Women (1893).

L'Immortel is a bitter attack on the Académie française, to which august body Daudet never belonged. Daudet also wrote for children, including La Belle Nivernaise, the story of an old boat and her crew. In 1867 Daudet married Julia Allard, author of Impressions de nature et d'art published in 1879 (of which L'Enfance d'une Parisienne, later published as a stand-alone in 1883, constitutes the first part, the third part being a compilation of her literary studies, formerly written for the "Journal Officiel" under the pseudonym "Karl Steen"). [2]

Académie française Pre-eminent council for the French language

The Académie française is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored as a division of the Institut de France in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the oldest of the five académies of the institute.

Daudet was far from faithful, and was one of a generation of French literary syphilitics. [6] Having lost his virginity at the age of twelve, he then slept with his friends' mistresses throughout his marriage. Daudet would undergo several painful treatments and operations for his subsequently paralyzing disease. His journal entries relating to the pain he experienced from tabes dorsalis are collected in the volume In the Land of Pain , translated by Julian Barnes. Daudet died in Paris on 16 December 1897, and was interred at that city's Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Political and social views, controversy and legacy

Portrait of Alphonse Daudet Alphonse Daudet.jpg
Portrait of Alphonse Daudet
Daudet by Guth, 1893 Alphonse Daudet Vanity Fair 11 March 1893.jpg
Daudet by Guth, 1893

Daudet was a monarchist and a fervent opponent of the French Republic. Daudet was also anti-Jewish, though less famously so than his son Léon. The main character of Le Nabab was inspired by a Jewish politician who was elected as a deputy for Nîmes. [7] Daudet campaigned against him and lost. Daudet counted many literary figures amongst his friends, including Edouard Drumont, who founded the Antisemitic League of France and founded and edited the anti-Semitic newspaper La Libre Parole. Daudet also exchanged anti-Semitic correspondence with Richard Wagner.[ citation needed ]

It has been argued that Daudet deliberately exaggerated his links to Provence to further his literary career and social success (following Frederic Mistral's success), including lying to his future wife about his "Provençal" roots. [8]

Numerous colleges and schools in contemporary France bear his name and his books are still widely read and several are still in print.


Major works, and works in English translation (date given of first translation). For a complete bibliography see Works by Alphonse Daudet  [ fr ].

Related Research Articles

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  1. "Sketch of Alphonse Daudet," Review of Reviews, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1898, p. 161.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Marzials, Frank Thomas (1911). "Daudet, Alphonse"  . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 848.
  3. Coustillas, Pierre ed. London and the Life of Literature in Late Victorian England: the Diary of George Gissing, Novelist. Brighton: Harvester Press, 1978, pp.37-8.
  4. Sachs, Murray (1966). "Alphonse Daudet's Tartarin Trilogy," The Modern Language Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 209–217.
  5. Coustillas, Pierre ed. p. 373.
  6. "Alphonse Daudet's Illness," The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3745, 1932, p. 722.
  7. Mosse, Claude (2009). "Alphonse Daudet, Ecrivain Provencal?", Actualite de l'Histoire, No. 103, p. 71.
  8. Mosse (2009), pp. 68–70.
  9. White, Nicholas (2001–2002). "Paternal Perspectives on Divorce in Alphonse Daudet's "Rose et Ninette" (1892)," Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1/2, pp. 131–147.


Further reading