Alfred de Musset: Wikis


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Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay[1] (11 December 1810 – 2 May 1857) was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist.[1][2] 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.[2]



Alfred de Musset

Musset[1] was born on 11 December 1810 in Paris.[2] 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 was similarly accomplished, 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.[2]

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.[2] Years later, elder brother Paul de Musset would preserve these, and many other details, for posterity, in a biography on his famous younger brother.[2]

Alfred de Musset entered the collège 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,[1] 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).[1] 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 George Sand,[1] which lasted from 1833 to 1835, is told from his point of view in his autobiographical novel, La Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Age,[1] made into a film, Children of the Century), and from her point of view in her Elle et lui. Musset's Nuits (1835–1837, Nights) trace his emotional upheaval of his love for George Sand, from early despair to final resignation.[1] He is also believed to be the author of Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess (1833), a lesbian erotic novel, also believed to be modeled on George Sand.[3]

Tomb of Alfred de Musset in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

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.

Musset received the Légion d'honneur on 24 April 1845, at the same time as Balzac, and was elected to the Académie française in 1852 (after two failures to do so in 1848 and 1850).

Alfred de Musset died in his sleep on 2 May 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 Musset's sign.[4] He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


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. (Lettre à Paul Demeny, mai 1871) Director Jean Renoir's La règle du jeu was inspired by Musset's play, Les Caprices de Marianne.


Lorenzaccio, which takes place in Medici's Florence, was set to music by the musician Sylvano Bussotti in 1972.



  • 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


  • 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


  • La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century, autobiographical), 1836.[2]
  • Histoire d'un merle blanc (The White Blackbird), 1842.

Secondary Literature


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h His names are often reversed "Louis Charles Alfred de Musset": see "(Louis Charles) Alfred de Musset" (bio),, 2007, webpage: Bio9413.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Chessville - Alfred de Musset: Romantic Player", Robert T. Tuohey,, 2006, webpage: Chessville-deMusset.
  3. ^ Kendall-Davies, Barbara (2003). The Life and Work of Pauline Viardot Garcia. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 45–46. ISBN 1904303277.  
  4. ^ "Twelve eponymous signs of aortic regurgitation, one of which was named after a patient instead of a physician." The American Journal of Cardiology, Volume 93, Issue 10, 15 May 2004, Pages 1332-1333. By Tsung O. Cheng MD.

External links

Preceded by
Emmanuel Mercier Dupaty
Seat 10
Académie française

Succeeded by
Victor de Laprade


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Alfred Louis Charles de Musset (December 11, 1810 – May 2, 1857) was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist.



  • As all the perfumes of the vanished day
    Rise from the earth still moistened with the dew
    So from my chastened soul beneath thy ray
    Old love is born anew.
    • Remembrance
  • Great artists have no country.
    • L’Orfèvre, Lorenzaccio (1834).

'Confession d'un Enfant du Siécle (1836)(translation)

  • The apartments of the rich are cabinets of curiosities: a conglomeration of classical antiquity, gothic, renaissance; Louis XIII...Something from every century but our own, a predicament that has arisen in no other period... so that we seem to be subsisting on the ruins of the past, as if the end of the world were near.
    • (this quotation is useful for explanations of the period of art nouveau, and the causes of the art movement)

translation needed

  • Je suis venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux. (I have come too late into a world too old.)
    • Rolla (1834)

Poésies Nouvelles

  • Je ne sais où va mon chemin, mais je marche mieux quand ma main serre la tienne. ("À mon frère revenant d'Italie", mars 1844)
  • Quel que soit le souci que ta jeunesse endure,
    Laisse-la s'élargir, cette sainte blessure
    Que les noirs séraphins t'ont faite au fond du coeur ;
    Rien ne nous rend si grands qu'une grande douleur
    Mais, pour en être atteint, ne crois pas, ô poète
    Que ta voix ici-bas doive rester muette.
    Les plus déseperés sont les chants les plus beaux,
    Et j'en sais d'immortels qui sont de purs sanglots.
    ("La Nuit de Mai", 1835)

On ne badine pas avec l'amour (1834)

  • On est souvent trompé en amour, souvent blessé et souvent malheureux; mais on aime, et quand on est sur le bord de sa tombe, on se retourne pour regarder en arrière et on se dit : j'ai souffert souvent, je me suis trompé quelquefois, mais j'ai aimé. C'est moi qui ai vécu, et non pas un être factice créé par mon orgueil et mon ennui. (Acte II, Scène V)

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