Edmond François Valentin About

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About in 1875. Edmond About (1875).png
About in 1875.
Caricature of About by Andre Gill, 1867. Gill-Edmond About.jpg
Caricature of About by André Gill, 1867.

Edmond François Valentin About (14 February 1828 16 January 1885) was a French novelist, publicist and journalist.



About was born at Dieuze, in the Moselle département in the Lorraine region of France. [1] In 1848 he entered the École Normale, taking second place in the annual competition for admission in which Hippolyte Taine came first. Among his college contemporaries, besides Taine, were Francisque Sarcey, Challemel-Lacour and Prevost-Paradol. Of them all, About was considered the most highly vitalized, exuberant, brilliant and "undisciplined". [2] It is said that one of his schoolmasters told him "You will never be more than a little Voltaire," [3] and About's career did tend toward Voltaire-style witty satire and commentaries on contemporary issues.

Dieuze Commune in Grand Est, France

Dieuze is a commune in the Moselle department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Moselle river in Germany, France and Luxembourg

The Moselle is a river that flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. It is a left tributary of the Rhine, which it joins at Koblenz. A small part of Belgium is also drained by the Moselle through the Sauer and the Our.

Hippolyte Taine French critic and historian

Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate with him. Taine is also remembered for his attempts to provide a scientific account of literature.

At the end of his college career, he joined the French school in Athens, but claimed that he had never intended to follow the professorial career for which the École Normale was a preparation, and in 1853 he returned to France and devoted himself to literature and journalism. [2]

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence started somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.


He made his name as an entertaining anti-clerical writer. The satirical Le Roi des montagnes (1856; translated into English by Mary Louise Booth as The King of the Mountains [4] , and by Tom Taylor as The Brigand and His Banker, for a dramatized version) [5] is the best-known of his novels. In Greece, About had noticed that there was a curious understanding between the brigands and police: brigandage was becoming almost a safe and respectable industry. About pushed this idea to invent the story of a brigand chief who converts his business into a registered joint-stock company.

The Le Roi des montagnes is a French-language novel published in 1857 by Edmond About. A film adaptation starring Lucile Saint-Simon and Claude Rollet was released in 1962.

Mary Louise Booth American editor, translator and writer

Mary Louise Booth was an American editor, translator and writer. She was the first editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar.

Joint-stock company business entity which is owned by shareholders

A joint-stock company is a business entity in which shares of the company's stock can be bought and sold by shareholders. Each shareholder owns company stock in proportion, evidenced by their shares. Shareholders are able to transfer their shares to others without any effects to the continued existence of the company.

About at the time of his first notoriety, by Felix-Henri Giacomotti, 1858 (Musee des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg) Portrait of Edmond About mg 0112.jpg
About at the time of his first notoriety, by Félix-Henri Giacomotti, 1858 (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg)
The grave of Edmond About in Pere La Chaise Cemetery in Paris The grave of Edmond About in Pere La Chaise Cemetery in Paris.jpg
The grave of Edmond About in Pere La Chaise Cemetery in Paris

About's commentary on modern Greece, La Grèce contemporaine (1854), was an immediate success. But his Tolla (1855), the story of a young Parisian actress, gave rise to charges of drawing too freely on an earlier Italian novel, Vittoria Savelli (1841). This aroused prejudice against him, and he was the object of numerous attacks. The Lettres d'un bon jeune homme, written to the Figaro under the signature of "Valentin de Quevilly", provoked more animosities. During the next few years, he wrote novels, stories, a play (which failed), a book-pamphlet on the Roman question, many pamphlets on other subjects of the day, innumerable newspaper articles, some art criticisms, rejoinders to the attacks of his enemies, and popular manuals of political economy, L'A B C du travailleur (1868), Le progrès (1864). His more serious novels include Madelon (1863), L'Infâme (1867), the three that form the trilogy of the Vieille Roche (1866), and Le roman d'un brave home (1880) – a kind of counterblast to the view of the French workman presented in Émile Zola's L'Assommoir . He is best remembered as a farceur, for the books Le nez d'un notaire (1862); Le roi des montagnes (1856); L'homme à l'oreille cassée (1862); Trente et quarante (1858); Le cas de M. Guérin (1862; see Georges Maurice de Guérin). [2]

<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.

Émile Zola French writer

Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'Accuse…! Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.

<i>LAssommoir</i> novel by Émile Zola

L'Assommoir[lasɔmwaʁ] (1877) is the seventh novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel—a study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and helped establish Zola's fame and reputation throughout France and the world.

About's attitude towards the empire was friendly but critical. He greeted the liberal ministry of Émile Ollivier at the beginning of 1870 with delight, and welcomed the Franco-Prussian War. But as a result of the war he lost his beloved home in Alsace, which he had purchased in 1858 out of the fruits of his earlier literary successes. With the fall of the empire, he became a republican, and threw himself into battle against conservative reactionaries. From 1872 to about 1877, his paper, the XIXe Siècle (19th century), became a power in the land. [2] His political career, however, failed to advance further. [3]

Émile Ollivier French statesman

Olivier Émile Ollivier was a French statesman. Starting as an avid republican opposed to Emperor Napoleon III, he pushed the Emperor toward liberal reforms and in turn came increasingly into Napoleon's grip. He entered the cabinet and was the prime minister when Napoleon fell.

Franco-Prussian War Conflict between the Kingdom of Prussia and several other german kingdoms and (grand) duchies and the Second French Empire

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

Alsace Place in Grand Est, France

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.

On 23 January 1884 he was elected a member of the Académie française, but died before taking his seat. His grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris includes a sculpture by Gustave Crauck.

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.

Père Lachaise Cemetery Cemetery in Paris, France

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, France. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world.

Gustave Crauck sculptor from France

Gustave Adolphe Désiré Crauck was a French sculptor with a long distinguished career.



  1. Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN   0-550-18022-2, page 5
  2. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Marzials, Frank Thomas (1911). "About, Edmond François Valentin". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 69.
  3. 1 2 Marzials 1911.
  4. Published in comic book form in the Classics Illustrated series (issue 127, Fall 1968)
  5. Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman, p.106

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