Alphonse Daudet

Last updated
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 Alphonse Daudet.jpg

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


Early life

Daudet was born in Nîmes, France. [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 still among his unruly pupils. These experiences and others were reflected in his novel Le Petit Chose

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]

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]

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). These, with the three Tartarins [3] - 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]

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 (1879), L'Enfance d'une Parisienne (1883), and some literary studies written under the pseudonym "Karl Steen". [2]

Daudet was far from faithful, and was one of a generation of French literary syphilitics. [4] 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
Alphonse Daudet, circa 1860 (The J. Paul Getty Museum) Alphonse Daudet 3.jpg
Alphonse Daudet, circa 1860 (The J. Paul Getty Museum)

Daudet was a monarchist and a fervent opponent of the French Republic. Daudet was also antisemite [ citation needed ], though less famously so than his son Léon. [5] The main character of Le Nabab was inspired by a Jewish politician who was elected as a deputy for Nîmes. [6] Daudet campaigned against him and lost [ citation needed ]. Daudet counted many antisemitic 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. [7] 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 widely read and several are in print. [ citation needed ]


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

Tarascon Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Tarascon, sometimes referred to as Tarascon-sur-Rhône, is a commune situated at the extreme west of the Bouches-du-Rhône department of France in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. Inhabitants are referred to as Tarasconnais or Tarasconnaises. The patron saint of the city is Martha of Bethany, whose motto is "Concordia Felix".

<i>Tartarin of Tarascon</i> Book by Alphonse Daudet

Tartarin of Tarascon is an 1872 novel written by the French author Alphonse Daudet.

Alpilles Chain of mountains in southern France

The Chaîne des Alpilles is a small range of low mountains in Provence, southern France, located about 20 km (12 mi) south of Avignon.

Léon Daudet

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

Pierre Gandon was a French illustrator and engraver of postage stamps. He was born on 20 January 1899 in L'Haÿ-les-Roses (Val-de-Marne) and died on 23 July 1990.

Louis Ulbach French novelist, essayist and journalist

Louis Ulbach was a French novelist, essayist and journalist. He published seventy-six volumes, wrote three plays, and wrote numerous articles and political or biographical pamphlets. His romantic novels were compared to the works of Émile Zola and Alphonse Daudet.

<i>Letters from My Windmill</i>

Letters from My Windmill is a collection of short stories by Alphonse Daudet first published in its entirety in 1869. Some of the stories had been published earlier in newspapers or journals such as Le Figaro and L'Evénement as early as 1865.

<i>LArlésienne</i> (short story)

L'Arlésienne is a short story, written by Alphonse Daudet and first published in his collection Letters From My Windmill in 1869.

Milovan Glišić

Milovan Glišić was a Serbian writer, dramatist, translator, and literary theorist. He is sometimes referred to as the Serbian Gogol.

Paul Arène French writer

Paul-Auguste Arène was a Provençal poet and French writer.

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 romantic ties to fellow novelist Marcel Proust. Daudet was also friends with Jean Cocteau.

<i>Fromont and Risler</i>

Fromont jeune et Risler aîné is a novel by French author Alphonse Daudet. It is the novel that first made Daudet famous, or as he put it, "the dawn of his popularity."

Roger Vergé was a French chef and restaurateur. He is considered one of the greatest chefs of his time. The Gault Millau described him as "the very incarnation of the great French chef for foreigners".

Hugues Le Roux

Robert Charles Henri Le Roux (1860–1925), known by the pen name Hugues Le Roux, was a French writer and journalist who wrote primarily about the French colonies and travel.

<i>Letters from My Windmill</i> (film) 1954 French film

Letters from My Windmill is a 1954 French comedy-drama film directed by Marcel Pagnol, starring Rellys, Robert Vattier, Fernand Sardou and Édouard Delmont. Set in the countryside of Provence, the film is based on three tales from Alphonse Daudet's 1869 short story collection Letters from My Windmill: "The Three Low Masses", "The Elixir of Father Gaucher" and "The Secret of Master Cornille". It premiered on 5 November 1954 and had 2,399,645 admissions in France.

Jules Girardet French painter

Jules Girardet was a French painter and illustrator of Swiss ancestry.

Ernest Daudet French journalist, novelist and historian

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.

Achille Millien French poet and folklorist

Achille Millien was a French poet and folklorist.

Adolphe Belot

Louis Marc Adolphe Belot was a French playwright and novelist. He was born on 6 November 1829 in Pointe-à-Pitre, and died on 18 December 1890 in Paris.

Batisto Bonnet

Batisto Bonnet was a French writer in the Provençal dialect. He is known for his Vie d'enfant (1894), an autobiographical account of his childhood as an illiterate peasant in the rural south of France.


  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 (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 848.
  3. Sachs, Murray (1966). "Alphonse Daudet's Tartarin Trilogy," The Modern Language Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 209–217.
  4. "Alphonse Daudet's Illness," The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3745, 1932, p. 722.
  5. Bernanos, Georges (1998). La grande peur des bien-pensants. Le livre de poche. ISBN   978-2-253-93302-1.
  6. Mosse, Claude (2009). "Alphonse Daudet, Ecrivain Provencal?", Actualite de l'Histoire, No. 103, p. 71.
  7. Gérard Gengembre, professeur de littérature française à l'Université de Caen. In DAUDET, Alphonse. Lettres de mon moulin, Paris, Pocket, 1998, p. 266. (Pocket classiques ; 6038). ISBN   2-266-08323-6
  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