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About the Author: Alfred de Musset

Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (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.
Musset was born on 11 December 1810 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 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.
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 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, 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 George Sand, 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 Century, 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. 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.

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 de Musset's sign. He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


La Confession d'Un Enfant Du Si cle (Classic Reprint) Cover Image

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Paperback, Published in Aug 2016 by Forgotten Books

ISBN10: 1332663087 | ISBN13: 9781332663088

Page count: 606

Excerpt from La Confession d'un Enfant du Siecle
De temps en temps leurs peres ensanglantes apparaissaient, les soulevaient sur leurs poitrines chamarrees d'or, puis les posaient a terre et remontaient a cheval.
Un seul homme etait en vie alors en Europe; le reste des etres tachait de se remplir les poumons de l'air qu'il avait respire. Chaque annee la France faisait present a cet homme de trois cent mille jeunes gens; c'etait l'impot paye a Cesar, et, s'il n'avait ce troupeau derriere lui, il ne pouvait suivre sa fortune. C'etait l'escorte qu'il lui fallait pour qu'il put traverser le monde et s'en aller tomber dans une petite vallee d'une ile deserte, sous un saule pleureur.
Jamais il n'y eut tant de nuits sans sommeil que du temps de cet homme; jamais on ne vit se pencher sur les remparts des villes un tel peuple de meres desolees; jamais il n'y eut un tel silence autour de ceux qui parlaient de mort. Et pourtant jamais il n'y eut tant de joie, tant de vie, tant de fanfares guerrieres, dans tous les c urs. Jamais il n'y eut de soleils si purs que ceux qui secherent tout ce sang. On disait que Dieu les faisait pour cet homme, et on les appelait ses soleils d'Austerlitz. Mais il les faisait bien lui-meme avec ses canons toujours tonnants, et qui ne laissaient des nuages qu'aux lendemains de ses batailles.
C'etait l'air de ce ciel sans tache, ou brillait tant de gloire, ou resplendissait tant d'acier, que les enfants respiraient alors. Ils savaient bien qu'ils etaient destines aux hecatombes; mais ils croyaient Murat invulnerable, et on avait vu passer l'empereur sur un pont ou sifflaient tant de balles qu'on ne savait s'il pouvait mourir. Et quand meme on aurait du mourir, qu'etait-ce que cela? La mort elle-meme etait si belle alors, si grande, si magnifique dans sa pourpre fumante! elle ressemblait si bien a l'esperance, elle fauchait de si verts epis qu'elle etait comme devenue jeune, et qu'on ne croyait plus a la vieillesse. Tous les berceaux de France etaient des boucliers, tous les cercueils en etaient aussi; il n'y avait vraiment plus de vieillards, il n'y avait que des cadavres ou des demi-dieux.
Cependant l'immortel empereur etait un jour sur une colline a regarder sept peuples s'egorger; comme il ne savait pas encore s'il serait le maitre du monde ou seulement de la moitie, Azrael passa sur la route, il l'effleura du bout de l'aile et le poussa dans l'Ocean. Au bruit de sa chute, les puissances moribondes se redresserent sur leurs lits de douleur, et, avancant leurs pattes crochues, toutes les royales araignees decouperent l'Europe et de la pourpre de Cesar se firent un habit d'Arlequin.
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