Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 
 

TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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1800 - 1899
 
 
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
  BACK-1846 Part I NEXT-1846 Part III    
 
 
     
1840 - 1849
YEAR BY YEAR:
1840-1849
History at a Glance
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1840 Part I
Bebel August
Maximilian of Mexico
Carlota
Convention of London
British North America Act
Francia Jose Gaspar
Macdonald Jacques
William I of the Netherlands
William II of the Netherlands
Retour des cendres
Lambton John George
Vaillant Edouard-Marie
Sampson William
Smith William Sidney
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1840 Part II
Ridpath John Clark
Sankey Ira David
James Fenimore Cooper: "The Pathfinder"
Blunt Wilfrid Scawen
Broughton Rhoda
Robert Browning: "Sordello"
Daudet Alphonse
Alphonse Daudet
"Tartarin de Tarascon"
Dobson Austin
Hardy Thomas
Thomas Hardy 
"Tess of the d'Urbervilles"
Lemercier  Nepomucene
Lermontov: "A Hero of Our Times"
Modjeska Helena
Symonds John Addington
Verga Giovanni
Zola Emile
Emile Zola
"
J'accuse" (I accuse)
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1840 Part III
Delacroix: "Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople"
Makart Hans
Hans Makart
Monet Claude
Claude Monet
Nasmyth Alexander
Alexander Nasmyth
Nast Thomas
Nelson's Column
Rodin Auguste
Auguste Rodin
Redon Odilon
Odilon Redon
Blechen Carl
Karl Blechen
Debain Alexandre-Francois
Donizetti: "La Fille du Regiment"
Haberl Franz Xaver
Tchaikovsky Peter Ilich
Tchaikovsky - The Seasons
Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
Schneckenburger Max
Wilhelm Karl
"Die Wacht am Rhein"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1840 Part IV
Olbers Wilhelm
Blumenbach Johann Friedrich
Ball Robert
Kohlrausch Friedrich Wilhelm
Agassiz Louis
Basedow Carl Adolph
Graves disease
Maxim Hiram
Eyre Edward John
Brummell Beau
Father Damien
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Washington Temperance Society
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1841 Part I
Second Battle of Chuenpee
Barere Bertrand
Fisher John Arbuthnot
British Hong Kong
Luzzatti Luigi
Merriman John
Harrison William Henry
Tyler John
Espartero Baldomero
Hirobumi Ito
Clemenceau Georges
Edward VII
Creole case
Laurier Wilfrid
New Zealand
Lamb William
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1841 Part II
Cheyne Thomas Kelly
Ludwig Feuerbach: "The Essence of Christianity"
Holmes Oliver Wendell
Holst Hermann Eduard
Jebb Richard Claverhouse
Ward Lester Frank
Black William
Robert Browning: "Pippa Passes"
Buchanan Robert
Fenimore Cooper: "The Deerslayer"
Coquelin Benoit
Dickens: "The Old Curiosity Shop"
Ewing Juliana Horatia
Sill Edward Rowland
Frederick Marryat: "Masterman Ready"
Mendes Catulle
Mounet-Sully Jean
"Punch, or The London Charivari"
Sealsfield Charles
Scott Clement William
White Joseph Blanco
Ruskin: "The King of the Golden River"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1841 Part III
Chantrey Francis
Morisot Berthe
Berthe Morisot
Renoir Pierre-Auguste
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Wagner Otto
Wallot Paul
Olivier Ferdinand
Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Olivier
Bazille Frederic
Frederic Bazille
Zandomeneghi Federico
Federico Zandomeneghi
Guillaumin Armand
Armand Guillaumin
Chabrier Emmanuel
Chabrier - Espana
Emmanuel Chabrier
Dibdin Thomas John
Dvorak Anton
Antonin Dvorak: Rusalka
Antonin Dvorak
Pedrell Felipe
Felip Pedrell: Els Pirineus
Felipe Pedrell
Rossini: "Stabat Mater"
Sax Antoine-Joseph
Schumann: Symphony No. 1
Sgambati Giovanni
Sgambati - Piano Concerto in G minor
Giovanni Sgambati
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1841 Part IV
Cooper Astley
Braid James
Hypnosis
Candolle Austin
Aniline
Kocher Emil Theodor
Kolliker Rudolf Albert
Petzval Joseph
Hudson William Henry
Warming Eugenius
Whitworth Joseph
Barnum's American Museum
Bradshaw George
Cook Thomas
Hyer Tom
"The New York Tribune"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1842 Part I
Pozzo di Borgo Charles-Andre
Las Cases Emmanuel
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
Treaty of Nanking
General Strike of 1842
O’Higgins Bernardo
Giolitti Giovanni
Fiske John
Hartmann Eduard
Hyndman Henry Mayers
James William
Kropotkin Peter Alekseyevich
Anarchism
Anarchism
Lavisse Ernest
Robertson George Croom
Sorel Albert
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1842 Part II
Banim John
Sue Eugene
Eugene Sue: "The Mysteries of Paris"
Bierce Ambrose
Brandes Georg
Bulwer-Lytton: "Zanoni"
Graham Maria
Coppee Francois
Cunningham Allan
Espronceda Jose
Gogol: "Dead Souls"
Howard Bronson
Lanier Sidney
Lover Samuel
MacKaye Steele
Maginn William
Mallarme Stephane
May Karl
Рое: "The Masque of the Red Death"
Quental Antero Tarquinio
Woodworth Samuel
Macaulay: "Lays of Ancient Rome"
Tupper Martin Farquhar
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1842 Part III
Vereshchagin Vasily
Vasily Vereshchagin
Boldini Giovanni
Giovanni Boldini
Boito Arrigo
Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele Finale
Arrigo Boito
Glinka: "Russian and Ludmilla"
Hopkinson Joseph
"Hail, Columbia"
Lortzing: "Der Wildschiitz"
Massenet Jules
Massenet "Elegie"
Jules Massenet
Millocker Karl
Millocker: Gasparone
Karl Millocker
New York Philharmonic
Sullivan Arthur
Arthur Sullivan - The Mikado - Overture
Arthur Sullivan
Wagner: "Rienzi"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1842 Part IV
Dewar James
Doppler Christian Andreas
Flammarion Camille
Hansen Emile Christian
Long Crawford Williamson
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Charting the Ocean Depths
Mayer Julius Robert
Pelletier Pierre Joseph
Marshall Alfred
Strutt John William
Retzius Gustaf
Fremont John Charles
Darling Grace
Polka
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1843 Part I
McKinley William
Braga Teofilo
Wairau Affray
Dilke Charles
Avenarius Richard
Borrow George
Carlile Richard
Thomas Carlyle: "Past and Present"
Creighton Mandell
Liddell and Scott: "Greek-English Lexicon"
Liddell Henry
Scott Robert
Ward James
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1843 Part II
Bulwer-Lytton: "The Last of the Barons"
Elisabeth of Romania
Dickens: "Martin Chuzzlewit"
Doughty Charles Montagu
Dowden Edward
Emmett Daniel Decatur
Hood Thomas
Thomas Hood: "Song of the Shirt"
Horne Richard Hengist
James Henry
Rosegger Peter
Suttner Bertha
Harris George Washington
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1843 Part III
Allston Washington
Washington Allston
John Ruskin: "Modern Painters"
Trumbull John
John Trumbull
Werner Anton
Anton von Werner
Clairin Georges
Georges Clairin
Donizetti: "Don Pasquale"
Grieg Edward
Grieg - Solveig Song
Edward Grieg
Nilsson Christine
Patti Adelina
Richter Hans
Schumann: "Paradise and the Peri"
Wagner: "The Flying Dutchman"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1843 Part IV
British Archaeological Association
Chamberlin Thomas Chrowder
Ferrier David
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever"
Holmes Oliver Wendell
Joule James Prescott
Koch Robert
Erbium
Brunel Marc Isambard
Thames Tunnel
Dix Dorothea Lynde
Guy's, Kings and St. Thomas' Rugby Football Club
Sequoyah
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1844 Part I
Lowe Hudson
Drouet Jean-Baptiste
Oscar I of Sweden
Dole Sanford Ballard
Laffitte Jacques
Franco-Moroccan War
Polk James Knox
Herrera Jose Joaquin
Treaty of Wanghia
Breshkovsky Catherine
Comstock Anthony
Emerson: "Essays"
Grundtvig Nikolaj Frederik Severin
Hall Granville Stanley
Nietzsche Friedrich
Friedrich Nietzsche
Rice Edmund Ignatius
Riehl Alois
Stanley Arthur Penrhyn
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1844 Part II
Bernhardt Sarah
Sarah Bernhardt
Dumas, pere: "Le Comte de Monte Cristo"
Bridges Robert
Cable George Washington
Carte Richard
Cary Henry Francis
Disraeli: "Coningsby"
France Anatole
Hopkins Gerard Manley
Lang Andrew
Liliencron Detlev
O'Reilly John Boyle
O’Shaughnessy Arthur
Sterling John
William Thackeray: "Barry Lyndon"
Verlaine Paul
Paul Verlaine
"Poems"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1844 Part III
Eakins Thomas
Thomas Eakins
Ezekiel Moses Jacob
Moses Ezekiel
Luke Fildes Luke
Luke Fildes
Leibl Wilhelm
Wilhelm Leibl
Munkacsy Mihaly
Mihaly Munkacsy
Repin Ilya
Ilya Repin
Rousseau Henri
Henri Rousseau
Cassatt Mary
Mary Cassatt
Flotow: "Alessandro Stradella"
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor
Rimsky-Korsakov Nikolay
The Best of Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Sarasate Pablo
Pablo de Sarasate - Zigeunerweisen
Pablo de Sarasate
Verdi: "Ernani"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1844 Part IV
Grassmann Hermann Gunther
Baily Francis
Boltzmann Ludwig Eduard
DeLong George Washington
Golgi Camillo
Kielmeyer Carl Friedrich
Kinglake Alexander William
Strasburger Eduard Adolf
Huc Evariste Regis
Gabet Joseph
Sturt Charles Napier
Leichhardt Friedrich
Beckford William
Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers
"Fliegende Blatter"
Hagenbeck Carl
Keller Friedrich Gottlob
Pasch Gustaf Erik
Young Men’s Christian Association
Williams George
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1845 Part I
Root Elihu
Texas
Florida
Flagstaff War
Ludwig II of Bavaria
First Anglo-Sikh War
Sonderbund
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1845 Part II
Friedrich Engels: "The Condition of the Working Class in England"
Stirner Max
Disraeli: "Sybil, or The Two Nations"
Hertz Henrik
Prosper Merimee: "Carmen"
Рое: "The Raven"
Spitteler Carl
Wergeland Henrik
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1845 Part III
Bode Wilhelm
Hill David Octavius
Ingres: The Comtesse d'Haussonville
Oberlander Adam Adolf
Crane Walter
Walter Crane
Faure Gabriel
Faure - Pavane
Gabriel Faure
Lortzing: "Undine"
Wagner: "Tannhauser"
Widor Charles-Marie
Widor - Piano Concerto No. 1
Charles Marie Widor
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1845 Part IV
Armstrong William George
Bigelow Erastus Brigham
Cayley Arthur
Cornell Ezra
Submarine communications cable
Heilmann Joshua
Humboldt: "Cosmos"
Kolbe Hermann
Laveran Alphonse
McNaught William
Metchnikoff Elie
Charting the Northwest
Layard Austen Henry
Cartwright Alexander
United States Naval Academy
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1846 Part I
Battle of Aliwal
Battle of Sobraon
Treaty of Lahore
Greater Poland Uprising
Krakow Uprising
Mexican-American War
Battle of Monterrey
First Battle of Tabasco
Iowa
Pasic Nikola
Evangelical Alliance
Eucken Rudolf Christoph
Pius IX
Whewell William
Young Brigham
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1846 Part II
Balzac: "La Cousine Bette"
De Amicis Edmondo
Dostoevsky: "Poor Folk"
Jokai Maurus
Lear Edward
Melville Herman
Herman Melville: "Typee"
Herman Melville
"Moby Dick or The Whale"
Sienkiewicz Henryk
George Watts: "Paolo and Francesca"
De Nittis Giuseppe
Giuseppe de Nittis
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1846 Part III
Berlioz: "Damnation de Faust"
Lortzing: "Der Waffenschmied"
Mendelssohn: "Elijah"
Deere John
Deere & Company
Henle Friedrich
Howe Elias
Waitz Theodor
Mohl Hugo
Green William Thomas
Sobrero Ascanio
Heaphy Charles
Brunner Thomas
Europeans in New Zealand
"The Daily News"
Horsley John Callcott
Smithsonian Institution
Zeiss Carl
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1847 Part I
Liberia
Second Battle of Tabasco
Battle of Churubusco
BATTLE OF MEXICO CITY
Hindenburg Paul
Sonderbund War
Beecher Henry Ward
Blanc Louis
Proudhon Pierre-Joseph
roudhon: "Philosophy of Poverty"P
Karl Marx: "The Poverty of Philosophy"
Salt Lake City
Charlotte Bronte: "Jane Eyre"
Bronte Emily
Marryat: "The Children of the New Forest"
Thackeray: "Vanity Fair"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1847 Part II
Hildebrand Adolf
Liebermann Max
Max Liebermann
Friedrich von Flotow: "Martha"
Verdi: "Macbeth"
Boole George
Edison Thomas Alva
Bell Alexander Graham
Semmelweis Ignaz Philipp
Colenso William
Factory Act of 1847
Fawcett Millicent
Siemens & Halske
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1848 Part I
Frederick VII
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Revolutions of 1848
French Revolution of 1848
June Days Uprising
Cavaignac Louis-Eugene
French Constitution of 1848
French Second Republic
Revolutions of 1848 in the Austrian Empire
Hungarian Revolution of 1848
Slovak Uprising 1848-1849
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Europe, 1815-48 (part I)
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1848 Part II
First Italian War of Independence
Skirmish of Pastrengo
Battle of Goito
Battle of Custoza
Revolutions of 1848 in the Italian states
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
Revolution of 1848 in Luxembourg
Greater Poland Uprising
Moldavian Revolution of 1848
Pan-Slav Congress of 1848
Pan-Slavism
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Europe, 1815-48 (part II)
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1848 Part III
Second Anglo-Sikh War
Nasr-ed-Din
Ibrahim Pasha
Abbas I
Wisconsin
Balfour Arthur James
Seneca Falls Convention
Stanton Elizabeth Cady
Delbruck Hans
Macaulay: "History of England"
"The Communist Manifesto"
John Mill: "Principles of Political Economy"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1848 Part IV
Augier Emile
Chateaubriand: "Memoires d'Outre-Tombe"
Dumas fils: "La Dame aux Camelias"
Gaskell Elizabet
Elizabeth Gaskell: "Mary Barton"
Murger Louis-Henri
Henri Murger: "Scenes de la vie de Boheme"
Terry Ellen
Surikov Vasily
Vasily Surikov
Uhde Fritz
Fritz von Uhde
Gauguin Paul
Paul Gauguin
Caillebotte Gustave
Gustave Caillebotte
Millais: "Ophelia"
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1848 Part V
Parry Hubert Hastings
Jerusalem by Hubert Parry
Hubert Parry
Duparc Henri
Duparc Henri: "L'invitation au voyage"
Henri Duparc
Bottger Rudolf Christian
Parsons William
Frege Gottlob
"New Prussian Newspaper"
"Neue Rheinische Zeitung"
Grace William Gilbert
Kneipp Sebastian
Lilienthal Otto
Starr Belle
California Gold Rush
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1849 Part I
Battle of Chillianwala
Battle of Gujrat
Roman Republic on February 9, 1849
Battle of Novara
Victor Emmanuel II
Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione
Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione
Peace of Milan
Taylor Zachary
Dresden Rebellion of 1849
Surrender at Vilagos
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1849 Part II
Kemble John Mitchell
Key Ellen
Arnold Matthew
Dickens: "David Copperfield"
Kingsley Charles
Scribe: "Adrienne Lecouvreur"
Strindberg August
Smith Horace
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1849 Part III
Waterhouse John William
John William Waterhouse
John Ruskin: "The Seven Lamps of Architecture"
Carriere Eugene
Eugene Carriere
Liszt: "Tasso"
Meyerbeer: "Le Prophete"
Otto Nicolai: "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
Schumann: "Manfred"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1849 Part IV
Fizeau Armand
Frankland Edward
Livingstone David
Explorations of David Livingstone
Baines Thomas
"Who's Who"
Bedford College
Bloomer Amelia
Bloomers (clothing)
Stead William Thomas
 
 
 

George Watts: "Paolo and Francesca"
 
 
 
 
 HISTORY, RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, ART, LITERATURE, MUSIC, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, DAILY LIFE
 
 
 
 
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
 
 
 
1846 Part II
 
 
 
1846
 
 
Andersen Hans Christian: "Fairy Tale of My Life," autobiography
 
 

Hans Christian Andersen:
"Fairy Tale of My Life," autobiography
 
 
 
     
  Hans Christian Andersen

"The Fairy Tales"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1846
 
 
Balzac: "La Cousine Bette"
 

La Cousine Bette (French pronunciation: ​[la kuzin bɛt], Cousin Bette) is an 1846 novel by French author Honoré de Balzac. Set in mid-19th century Paris, it tells the story of an unmarried middle-aged woman who plots the destruction of her extended family. Bette works with Valérie Marneffe, an unhappily married young lady, to seduce and torment a series of men. One of these is Baron Hector Hulot, husband to Bette's cousin Adeline. He sacrifices his family's fortune and good name to please Valérie, who leaves him for a tradesman named Crevel. The book is part of the Scènes de la vie parisienne section of Balzac's novel sequence La Comédie humaine ("The Human Comedy").

 
In the 1840s, a serial format known as the roman-feuilleton was highly popular in France, and the most acclaimed expression of it was the socialist writing of Eugène Sue. Balzac wanted to challenge Sue's supremacy, and prove himself the most capable feuilleton author in France. Writing quickly and with intense focus, Balzac produced La Cousine Bette, one of his longest novels, in two months. It was published in Le Constitutionnel at the end of 1846, then collected with a companion work, Le Cousin Pons, the following year.

The novel's characters represent polarities of contrasting morality. The vengeful Bette and disingenuous Valérie stand on one side, with the merciful Adeline and her patient daughter Hortense on the other. The patriarch of the Hulot family, meanwhile, is consumed by his own sexual desire. Hortense's husband, the Polish exile Wenceslas Steinbock, represents artistic genius, though he succumbs to uncertainty and lack of motivation. Balzac based the character of Bette in part on his mother and the poet Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. At least one scene involving Baron Hulot was likely based on an event in the life of Balzac's friend, the novelist Victor Hugo.

La Cousine Bette is considered Balzac's last great work. His trademark use of realist detail combines with a panorama of characters returning from earlier novels. Several critics have hailed it as a turning point in the author's career, and others have called it a prototypical naturalist text. It has been compared to William Shakespeare's Othello as well as Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. The novel explores themes of vice and virtue, as well as the influence of money on French society. Bette's relationship with Valérie is also seen as an important exploration of homoerotic themes. A number of film versions of the story have been produced, including a 1971 BBC mini-series starring Margaret Tyzack and Helen Mirren, and a 1998 feature film with Jessica Lange in the title role.

  Background
By 1846 Honoré de Balzac had achieved tremendous fame as a writer, but his finances and health were deteriorating rapidly. After writing a series of potboiler novels in the 1820s, he published his first book under his own name, Les Chouans ("The Chouans"), in 1829. He followed this with dozens of well-received novels and stories, including La Peau de chagrin ("The Magic Skin"), in 1831, Le Père Goriot ("Father Goriot") in 1835, and the two-volume Illusions perdues ("Lost Illusions"), in 1837 and 1839. Because of his lavish lifestyle and penchant for financial speculation, however, he spent most of his life trying to repay a variety of debts. He wrote tirelessly, driven as much by economic necessity as by the muse and black coffee. This regimen of constant work exhausted his body and brought reprimands from his doctor.

As his work gained recognition, Balzac began corresponding with a Polish baroness named Ewelina Hańska, who first contacted him through an anonymous 1832 letter signed "L'Étrangère" ("The Stranger"). They developed an affectionate friendship in letters, and when she became a widow in 1841, Balzac sought her hand in marriage. He visited her often in Poland and Germany, but various complications prohibited their union. One of these was an affair Balzac had with his housekeeper, Louise Breugniot.

As she became aware of his affection for Mme. Hanska, Breugniot stole a collection of their letters and used them to extort money from Balzac. Even after this episode, however, he grew closer to Mme. Hanska with each visit and by 1846 he had begun preparing a home to share with her. He grew hopeful that they could marry when she became pregnant, but she fell ill in December and suffered a miscarriage.

The mid-19th century was a time of profound transformation in French government and society. The reign of King Charles X ended in 1830 when a wave of agitation and dissent forced him to abdicate.

 
 
He was replaced by Louis-Philippe, who named himself "King of the French", rather than the standard "King of France" – an indication that he answered more to the nascent bourgeoisie than the aristocratic Ancien Régime.

The change in government took place while the economy in France was moving from mercantilism to industrial development. This opened new opportunities for individuals hoping to acquire wealth, and led to significant changes in social norms. Members of the aristocracy, for example, were forced to relate socially to the nouveau riche, usually with tense results. The democratic spirit of the French Revolution also affected social interactions, with a shift in popular allegiance away from the church and the monarchy.

In the mid-19th century, a new style of novel became popular in France. The serial format known as the roman-feuilleton presented stories in short regular installments, often accompanied by melodramatic plots and stock characters. Although Balzac's La Vieille Fille (The Old Maid), 1836, was the first such work published in France, the roman-feuilleton gained prominence thanks mostly to his friends Eugène Sue and Alexandre Dumas, père. Balzac disliked their serial writing, however, especially Sue's socialist depiction of lower-class suffering. Balzac wanted to dethrone what he called "les faux dieux de cette littérature bâtarde" ("the false gods of this bastard literature"). He also wanted to show the world that, despite his poor health and tumultuous career, he was "plus jeune, plus frais, et plus grand que jamais" ("younger, fresher, and greater than ever"). His first efforts to render a quality feuilleton were unsuccessful. Even though Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes ("A Harlot High and Low"), published in segments from 1838 to 1847, was celebrated by critics, Balzac complained to Mme. Hanska that he was "doing pure Sue". He tried again in 1844 with Modeste Mignon, but public reactions were mixed. Two years later Balzac began a new project, determined to create something from his "own old pen again".

 
 
Writing and publication
After resting for a week in June 1846 at the Château de Saché in Tours, Balzac returned to Paris and began working on a short story called "Le Parasite", which he eventually developed into the novel Le Cousin Pons. He intended from the start to pair it with another novel, collecting them under the title Les Parents pauvres ("The Poor Relations"). He based the second book on a story his sister Laure Surville had written called "La Cousine Rosalie" and published in 1844 in Le Journal des enfants. Writing intensively, he produced the entire novel, named La Cousine Bette after the main character, in two months. This was a significant accomplishment owing to his bad health, but its length made Balzac's writing speed especially remarkable. One critic calls the writing of Les Parents pauvres Balzac's "last explosion of creative energy". Another suggests that this effort was "almost the last straw which broke down Balzac's gigantic strength".

Balzac's usual mode of revision involved vast, complicated edits made to galley proofs he received from the printer. When creating La Cousine Bette, however, he submitted the work to his editor piece by piece, without viewing a single proof. The book was serialized in Le Constitutionnel from 8 October to 3 December, and Balzac rushed to keep up with the newspaper's rapid printing schedule. He produced an average of eight pages each day, but was struck by the unexpected enormity of the story as it evolved.

 
Illustration from an 1897 edition by Georges Cain
 
 
Balzac was paid 12,836 francs for the series, which was later published with Le Cousin Pons as a twelve-volume book by Chiendowski and Pétion. The first collected edition of La Cousine Bette was organized into 132 chapters, but these divisions were removed when Balzac added it to his massive collection La Comédie humaine in 1848.
 
 
Plot summary
The first third of the novel provides a lengthy exploration of the characters' histories. Balzac makes this clear after 150 pages: "Ici se termine, en quelque sorte, l'introduction de cette histoire." ("Here ends what is, in a way, the introduction to this story.") At the start of the novel, Adeline Hulot – wife of the successful Baron Hector Hulot – is being pressured into an affair by a wealthy perfumer named Célestin Crevel. His desire stems in part from an earlier contest in which the adulterous Baron Hulot had won the hand of the singer Josépha Mirah, also favored by Crevel. The Hulots' daughter, Hortense, has begun searching for a husband; their son Victorin is married to Crevel's daughter Celestine. Mme. Hulot resists Crevel's advances, and he turns his attention elsewhere.

Mme. Hulot's cousin, Bette (also called Lisbeth), harbors a deep but hidden resentment of her relatives' success. A peasant woman with none of the physical beauty of her cousin, Bette has rejected a series of marriage proposals from middle-class suitors, and remains unmarried at the age of 42. One day she comes upon a young unsuccessful Polish sculptor named Wenceslas Steinbock, attempting suicide in the tiny apartment upstairs from her own. As she nourishes him back to health, she develops a maternal fondness for him. She also befriends Valérie, the wife of a War Department clerk named Marneffe; the two women form a bond of mutual affection and protection.

Baron Hulot, meanwhile, is rejected by Josépha, who explains bluntly that she has chosen another man because of his larger fortune. Hulot's despair is quickly alleviated when he meets and falls in love with Valérie Marneffe. He showers her with gifts, and soon establishes a luxurious house for her and M. Marneffe, with whom he works at the War Department.

 
While caring for him, Bette refers to Wenceslas Steinbock as "mon enfant ... un garçon qui se relève du cercueil" ("my child ... a son risen from the grave").
 
 
These debts, compounded by the money he borrowed to lavish on Josépha, threaten the Hulot family's financial security. Panicked, he convinces his uncle Johann Fischer to quietly embezzle funds from a War Department outpost in Algiers. Hulot's woes are momentarily abated and Bette's happiness is shattered, when – at the end of the "introduction" – Hortense Hulot marries Wenceslas Steinbock.

Crushed at having lost Steinbock's company, Bette swears vengeance on the Hulot family. She works behind the scenes with Valérie to extract more money from Baron Hulot. Valérie also seduces Crevel and watches with delight as they vie for her attention. With Bette's help, Valérie turns to Steinbock and draws him into her bedroom. When Hortense learns of his infidelity, she leaves Steinbock and returns with their son to live with her mother Adeline. Valérie also proclaims her love to a Brazilian Baron named Henri Montès de Montéjanos, and swears devotion constantly to each of the five men.

 
 

When Baron Hulot marries the kitchen maid Agathe, his son Victorin concludes: "les enfants ne peuvent pas empêcher la folie des ancêtres en enfance" ("children cannot interfere with the insane acts of their parents in their second childhood").
 
 
Baron Hulot's brother, known as "le maréchal" ("the Marshal"), hires Bette as his housekeeper, and they develop a mild affection. He learns of his brother's infidelities (and the difficulties they have caused Adeline, who refuses to leave her husband), and promises to marry Bette if she will provide details. She agrees eagerly, delighted at the prospect of finally securing an enviable marriage. While investigating his brother's behavior, however, the Marshal discovers Baron Hulot's scheme in Algiers. He is overwhelmed by the disgrace, and his health deteriorates. Bette's last hope for a brighter future dies with him.

When Valérie becomes pregnant, she tells each of her lovers (and her husband) that he is the father. She gives birth to a stillborn child, however, and her husband dies soon thereafter. Hulot and Crevel are ecstatic when they hear this news, each believing that he will become her only love once the official mourning period has passed.
 
 
Valérie chooses Crevel for his comfortable fortune, and they quickly wed. This news outrages Baron Montès, and he devises a plot to poison the newlyweds. Crevel and Valérie die slowly, their bodies devoured by an exotic Brazilian toxin.

Victorin Hulot is later visited by the Prince of Wissembourg, who delivers news of economic good fortune. The Marshal, prior to his death, had made arrangements for repayment of the Baron's debts, as well as employment for Adeline in a Catholic charity. Baron Hulot has disappeared, and Adeline spends her free time searching for him in houses of ill repute. She eventually finds him living with a fifteen-year-old courtesan, and begs him to return to the family. He agrees, but as he climbs into the carriage, Hulot asks: "mais pourrai-je emmener la petite?" ("But can I take the girl?") The Hulot home is reunited for a time, and Bette's fury at their apparent happiness hastens her death. One evening after the funeral, Adeline overhears Hulot seducing a kitchen maid named Agathe.
On her deathbed, Adeline delivers her first rebuke to her husband: "[D]ans un moment, tu seras libre, et tu pourras faire une baronne Hulot." ("In a moment, you will be free, and you can make another Baronne Hulot.") Soon after burying his wife, Hulot marries Agathe.

 
The death of Marshal Hulot has been called "one of the most moving in all of Balzac".
 
 
Characters and inspirations
Balzac had written more than seventy novels when he began La Cousine Bette, and populated them with recurring characters. Many of the characters in the novel, therefore, appear with extensive back-stories and biographical depth. For example, Célestin Crevel first appeared in Balzac's 1837 novel César Birotteau, working for the title character. Having accumulated a considerable fortune in that book, Crevel spends his time in La Cousine Bette enjoying the spoils of his labor. Another important recurring character is Marshal Hulot, who first appeared as a colonel in Les Chouans. In the years between that story and La Cousine Bette, he became the Count of Forzheim; in a letter to the Constitutionnel, Balzac described how Marshal Hulot gained this title. The presence of Crevel and Marshal Hulot – among others – in La Cousine Bette allows a continuation of each character's life story, adding emphasis or complexity to earlier events.

Other recurring characters appear only briefly in La Cousine Bette; previous appearances, however, give deep significance to the characters' presence. This is the case with Vautrin, the criminal mastermind who tutors young Eugene de Rastignac in Balzac's 1835 novel Le Père Goriot. When he resurfaces in La Cousine Bette, he has joined the police and introduces the Hulot family to his aunt, Mme. Nourrison, who offers a morally questionable remedy for their woes. Although Vautrin's presence in La Cousine Bette is brief, his earlier adventures in Le Père Goriot provide instant recognition and emotional texture. Elsewhere, Balzac presents an entire world of experience by including characters from a particular sphere of society. For example, several scenes feature artists like Jean-Jacques Bixiou, who first appeared in 1837's Les Employés and in many other books thereafter. The world of Parisian nightlife is quickly brought to mind with the inclusion of several characters from Les Comédiens sans le savoir (1846), and Bianchon appears – as always – when a doctor is needed.

Balzac's use of recurring characters has been identified as a unique component of his fiction. It enables a depth of characterization that goes beyond simple narration or dialogue. "When the characters reappear", notes the critic Samuel Rogers, "they do not step out of nowhere; they emerge from the privacy of their own lives which, for an interval, we have not been allowed to see." Some readers, however, are intimidated by the depth created by these interdependent stories, and feel deprived of important context for the characters. Detective novelist Arthur Conan Doyle said that he never tried to read Balzac, because he "did not know where to begin". The characterization in La Cousine Bette is considered especially skillful. Anthony Pugh, in his book Balzac's Recurring Characters, says that the technique is employed "for the most part without that feeling of self-indulgence that mars some of Balzac's later work. Almost every example arises quite naturally out of the situation." Biographer Noel Gerson calls the characters in La Cousine Bette "among the most memorable Balzac ever sketched".

 
 
Bette Fischer
Descriptions of Bette are often connected to savagery and animal imagery. Her name, for example, is a homophone in French for "bête" ("beast"). One passage explains that "elle ressemblait aux singes habillés en femmes" ("she sometimes looked like one of those monkeys in petticoats"); elsewhere her voice is described as having "une jalousie de tigre" ("tiger-like jealousy"). Her beastly rage comes to the surface with ferocity when she learns of Steinbock's engagement to Hortense:

La physionomie de la Lorraine était devenue terrible. Ses yeux noirs et pénétrants avaient la fixité de ceux des tigres. Sa figure ressemblait à celles que nous supposons aux pythonisses, elle serrait les dents pour les empêcher de claquer, et une affreuse convulsion faisait trembler ses membres. Elle avait glissé sa main crochue entre son bonnet et ses cheveux pour les empoigner et soutenir sa tête, devenue trop lourde; elle brûlait! La fumée de l'incendie qui la ravageait semblait passer par ses rides comme par autant de crevasses labourées par une éruption volcanique.

The peasant-woman's face was terrible; her piercing black eyes had the glare of the tiger's; her face was like that we ascribe to a pythoness; she set her teeth to keep them from chattering, and her whole frame quivered convulsively. She had pushed her clenched fingers under her cap to clutch her hair and support her head, which felt too heavy; she was on fire. The smoke of the flame that scorched her seemed to emanate from her wrinkles as from the crevasses rent by a volcanic eruption.

When she learns that her cousin Adeline has been welcoming Steinbock into the Hulot home, Bette swears revenge: "Adeline! se dit Lisbeth, ô Adeline, tu me le payeras, je te rendrai plus laide que moi!" ("'Adeline!' muttered Lisbeth. 'Oh, Adeline, you shall pay for this! I will make you uglier than I am.'")

 
Lisbeth Fischer (Cousin Bette) is described as "maigre, brune ... les sourcils épais et réunis par un bouquet ... quelques verrues dans sa face longue et simiesque"

("lean, brown, with ... thick eyebrows joining in a tuft ... and some moles on her narrow simian face").
 
 
Her cruelty and lust for revenge lead critics to call her "demonic" and "one of Balzac's most terrifying creations". Because of her willingness to manipulate the people around her, Bette has been compared to Iago in William Shakespeare's play Othello. Her fierce persona is attributed partly to her peasant background, and partly to her virginity, which provides (according to Balzac) "une force diabolique ou la magie noire de la volonté" ("diabolical strength, or the black magic of the Will").

In a letter to Mme. Hanska, Balzac indicated that he based the character of Bette on three women from his life: his mother, Mme. Hanska's aunt Rosalie Rzewuska, and the poet Marceline Desbordes-Valmore. Balzac had a tumultuous relationship with his mother for most of his life, and he incorporated some of her personality (particularly her "obstinate persistence in living", as one critic calls it) into Bette. Rosalie Rzewuska disapproved of Mme. Hanska's relationship with Balzac; biographers agree that her cold determination was part of the author's recipe for Bette. Elements taken from Marceline Desbordes-Valmore are more complex; she faced many setbacks in life and she and Balzac became friends after she left the theatre to take up poetry.

 
 
Valérie Marneffe
Bette's co-conspirator in the destruction of the Hulot family is beautiful and greedy Valérie Marneffe, the unsatisfied wife of a War Department clerk. They develop a deep friendship, which many critics consider an example of lesbian affection. Because of their relationship and similar goals, the critic Frederic Jameson says that "Valérie serves as a kind of emanation of Bette".

Valérie is repulsed by her ugly husband and has gone five years without kissing him. She explains bluntly that her position as a married woman provides subtleties and options unavailable to the common prostitute who has one set price; after Marneffe dies, Valérie jockeys for position between Hulot and Montés (while also sleeping with Steinbock), then discards them all to marry Crevel, who offers the most wealth. She amuses herself by mocking her lovers' devotion, and this wickedness – not to mention her gruesome demise – has led some critics to speculate that she is actually the focus of Balzac's morality tale.

In one important scene, Valérie models for Steinbock as Delilah, standing victorious over the ruined Samson. With obvious parallels to her own activities, she describes her vision for the piece: "Il s'agit d'exprimer la puissance de la femme. Samson n'est rien, là. C'est le cadavre de la force. Dalila, c'est la passion qui ruine tout." ("What you have to show is the power of woman. Samson is a secondary consideration. He is the corpse of dead strength. It is Delilah—passion—that ruins everything.")

Although Balzac did not draw specifically from the women in his life to create Valérie, parallels have been observed in some areas. The tumultuous end of his affair with Louise Breugniot and the advantage she gains from his devotion to Mme. Hanska is similar in some ways to Valérie's manipulation of Steinbock.

 
Valérie Marneffe "attirait tous les regards, excitait tous les désirs, dans le cercle où elle rayonnait" ("attracted every eye, and excited every desire in the circle she shone upon").
 
 
Critics also connect the pride and anguish felt by Balzac during Mme. Hanska's pregnancy and miscarriage to the same emotions felt by Baron Hulot when Valérie conceives and loses her child. Although he never ascribed to Mme. Hanska any of the traits in Valérie's treacherous character, he felt a devotion similar to that of Hulot.

He once wrote to her: "je fais pour mon Eve toute les folies qu'un Hulot fait pour une Marneffe, je te donnerai mon sang, mon honneur, ma vie" ("I commit for [you] all the follies that a Hulot commits for Madame Marneffe; I give you my blood, my honor, my life").
 
 
Hector and Adeline Hulot
Baron Hector Hulot is a living manifestation of male sexual desire, unrestrained and unconcerned with its consequences for the man or his family. As the novel progresses, he becomes consumed by his libido, even in a physical sense. When Valérie tells him to stop dyeing his hair, he does so to please her. His financial woes and public disgrace lead him to flee his own home; by the end of the book he is an elderly, decrepit shell of a man. Baron Hulot is so overcome by his taste for female flesh that he even asks his wife – without irony – if he can bring home his fifteen-year-old mistress.

Adeline Hulot, on the other hand, is mercy personified. Like her cousin Bette, she comes from a peasant background, but has internalized the ideals of 19th-century womanhood, including devotion, grace, and deference. She reveals in the first scene that she has known for years about her husband's infidelities, but refuses to condemn him. Adeline's forgiving nature is often considered a significant character flaw. Some suggest that she is partly to blame for Hulot's wandering affection. C.A. Prendergast, for example, calls her forgiveness "an inadequate and even positively disastrous response" to her situation. He further suggests that Adeline, by choosing the role of quiet and dutiful wife, has excised from herself the erotic power to which the Baron is drawn. "[O]ne could at the very least offer the tentative speculation that Hulot's obsessional debauchery is in part the result of a certain poverty in Adeline, that the terrible logic of Hulot's excess is partially shaped by a crucial deficiency in his wife." Others are less accusatory; Adeline's nearly infinite mercy, they say, is evidence of foolishness. Critic Herbert J. Hunt declares that she shows "more imbecility than Christian patience", and David Bellos points out that, like her husband, she is driven by passion – albeit of a different kind: "Adeline's desire (for good, for the family, for Hector, for God) is so radically different from the motivating desires of the other characters that she seems in their context to be without desire ..."

Balzac's inspiration for the characters of Hector and Adeline remain unclear, but several critics have been eager to speculate. Three officers named Hulot were recognized for their valor in the Napoleonic Wars, and some suggest that Balzac borrowed the name of Comte Hector d'Aure. None of these men, however, were known for the sort of philandering or thievery exhibited by Baron Hulot in the novel. Instead, Balzac may have used himself as the model; his many affairs with women across the social spectrum lead some to suggest that the author "found much of Hulot in himself". Balzac's friend Victor Hugo, meanwhile, was famously discovered in bed with his mistress in July 1845. The similarity of his name to Hector Hulot (and that of his wife's maiden name, Adèle Foucher, to Adeline Fischer) has been posited as a possible indication of the characters' origins.

 
 
Wenceslas Steinbock
The Polish sculptor Wenceslas Steinbock is important primarily because of Bette's attachment to him. He offers Bette a source of pride, a way for her to prove herself worthy of her family's respect. When Hortense marries Steinbock, Bette feels as though she has been robbed. Prendergast insists that the incident "must literally be described as an act of theft".

Steinbock's relevance also lies in his background and profession, illustrating Balzac's conception of the Polish people, as well as himself. Having spent more than a decade befriending Mme. Hanska and visiting her family in Poland, Balzac believed he had insight into the national character (as he felt about most groups he observed). Thus, descriptions of Steinbock are often laced with commentary about the Polish people: "Soyez mon amie, dit-il avec une de ces démonstrations caressantes si familières aux Polonais, et qui les font accuser assez injustement de servilité." ("'Be my sweetheart,' he added, with one of the caressing gestures familiar to the Poles, for which they are unjustly accused of servility.")

Critics also consider Steinbock important because of his artistic genius. Like Louis Lambert and Lucien Chardon in Illusions perdues, he is a brilliant man – just as Balzac considered himself to be. Before he is nurtured and directed by Bette, however, Steinbock's genius languishes under his own inertia and he attempts suicide.

 
"Quoique Steinbock eût vingt-neuf ans, il paraissait, comme certains blonds, avoir cinq ou six ans de moins ... cette jeunesse ... avait cédé sous les fatigues et les misères de l'exil" ("Though Steinbock was nine-and-twenty, like many fair men, he looked five or six years younger ... his youth ... had faded under the fatigue and stress of life in exile".)
 
 
Later, when he leaves Bette's circle of influence, he fails again.
Thus he demonstrates Balzac's conviction that genius alone is useless without determination. Bellos organizes Steinbock and Bette into a duality of weakness and strength; whereas the Polish artist is unable to direct his energies into productive work, Bette draws strength from her virginity and thus becomes powerful by denying the lust to which Steinbock falls prey. Steinbock's drive is further eroded by the praise he receives for his art, which gives him an inflated sense of accomplishment. One critic refers to the artist's downfall as "vanity ... spoiled by premature renown".
 
 

After acknowledging herself as Delilah, Valérie warns her guests: "Prenez garde à vos toupets, messieurs!" ("Take care of your wigs, gentlemen!")
 
 
Style
If Balzac's goal was (as he claimed) to write a realist novel from his "own old pen" rather than mimic the style of Eugène Sue, history and literary criticism have declared him successful. William Stowe calls La Cousine Bette "a masterpiece of classical realism" and Bellos refers to it as "one of the great achievements of nineteenth-century realism", comparing it to War and Peace. Some sections of the book are criticized for being melodramatic, and Balzac biographer V. S. Pritchett even refers to a representative excerpt as "bad writing". Most critics, however, consider the moralistic elements of the novel deceptively complex, and some point out that the roman-feuilleton format required a certain level of titillation to keep readers engaged. Others indicate that Balzac's interest in the theatre was an important reason for the inclusion of melodramatic elements.

Balzac's trademark realism begins on the first page of the novel, wherein Crevel is described wearing a National Guard uniform, complete with the Légion d'honneur. Details from the 1830s also appear in the novel's geographic locations. The Hulot family home, for example, is found in the aristocratic area of Paris known as the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Bette's residence is on the opposite end of the social spectrum, in the impoverished residential area which surrounded the Louvre: "Les ténèbres, le silence, l'air glacial, la profondeur caverneuse du sol concourent à faire de ces maisons des espèces de cryptes, des tombeaux vivants." ("Darkness, silence, an icy chill, and the cavernous depth of the soil combine to make these houses a kind of crypt, tombs of the living.") Descriptions of her meager quarters are – as usual in Balzac's work – an acute reflection of her personality. The same is true of the Marneffe home at the outset: it contains "les trompeuses apparences de ce faux luxe" ("the illusory appearance of sham luxury"), from the shabby chairs in the drawing-room to the dust-coated bedroom.

Precise detail is not spared in descriptions of decay and disease, two vivid elements in the novel. Marneffe, for example, represents crapulence. His decrepit body is a symbol of society's weakness at the time, worn away from years of indulgence. The poison which kills Valérie and Crevel is also described in ghastly detail. The doctor Bianchon explains: "Ses dents et ses cheveux tombent, elle a l'aspect des lépreux, elle se fait horreur à elle-même; ses mains, épouvantables à voir, sont enflées et couvertes de pustules verdâtres; les ongles déchaussés restent dans les plaies qu'elle gratte; enfin, toutes les extrémités se détruisent dans la sanie qui les ronge." ("She is losing her hair and teeth, her skin is like a leper's, she is a horror to herself; her hands are horrible, covered with greenish pustules, her nails are loose, and the flesh is eaten away by the poisoned humors.")

La Cousine Bette is unapologetic in its bleak outlook, and makes blunt connections between characters' origins and behavior. For these reasons, it is considered a key antecedent to naturalist literature. Novelist Émile Zola called it an important "roman expérimental" ("experimental novel"), and praised its acute exploration of the characters' motivations. Some critics note that La Cousine Bette showed an evolution in Balzac's style – one which he had little time to develop. Pointing to the nuance of plot and comprehensive narration style, Stowe suggests that the novel "might in happier circumstances have marked the beginning of a new, mature 'late Balzac'".

  Themes
Passion, vice, and virtue

Valérie's line about Delilah being "la passion qui ruine tout" ("passion which ruins everything") is symbolic, coming as it does from a woman whose passion accelerates the ruin of most people around her – including herself. Baron Hulot, meanwhile, is desire incarnate; his wandering libido bypasses concern for his wife, brother, children, finances, and even his own health. Bette is living vengeance, and Adeline desperately yearns for the happy home she imagined in the early years of marriage. Each character is driven by a fiery passion, which in most cases consumes the individual. As Balzac puts it: "La passion est un martyre." ("Passion is martyrdom.")
The intensity of passion, and the consequences of its manifestation, result in a stark contrast of vice and virtue. Bette and Valérie are pure wickedness, and even celebrate the ruin of their targets. As one critic says, "life's truths are viewed in their most atrocious form". Mocking the use of the guillotine during the French Revolution while acknowledging her own malicious intent, Valérie says with regard to Delilah: "La vertu coupe la tête, le Vice ne vous coupe que les cheveux." ("Virtue cuts off your head; vice only cuts off your hair.") Hulot is not intentionally cruel, but his actions are no less devastating to the people around him.

On the other side of the moral divide, Adeline and her children stand as shining examples of virtue and nobility – or so it would seem. Hortense ridicules her aunt when Bette mentions her protégé Wenceslas Steinbock, providing a psychological catalyst for the ensuing conflict. Victorin repeatedly expresses outrage at his father's philandering, yet crosses a significant moral boundary when he agrees to fund Mme. Nourrison's plan to eradicate Valérie. As one critic puts it, Victorin's decision marks a point in the novel where "the scheme of right versus wrong immediately dissolves into a purely amoral conflict of different interests and passions, regulated less by a transcendent moral law than by the relative capacity of the different parties for cunning and ruthlessness." The cruelties of the Hulot children are brief but significant, owing as much to their obliviousness (intentional in the case of Victorin, who asks not to learn the details of Mme. Nourrison's scheme) as to malicious forethought.

The question of Adeline's virtue is similarly complicated. Although she is forgiving to the point of absurdity, she is often considered more of a dupe than a martyr. Some have compared her to Balzac's title character in Le Père Goriot, who sacrifices himself for his daughters. As Bellos puts it: "Adeline's complicity with Hector certainly makes her more interesting as a literary character, but it undermines her role as the symbol of virtue in the novel." This complicity reaches an apex when she unsuccessfully attempts to sell her affections to Crevel (who has since lost interest) in order to repay her husband's debts. Her flirtation with prostitution is sometimes considered more egregious than Valérie's overt extortion, since Adeline is soiling her own dignity in the service of Baron Hulot's infidelity.
For the remainder of the novel, Adeline trembles uncontrollably, a sign of her weakness. Later, when she visits the singer Josépha (on whom her husband once doted), Adeline is struck by the splendor earned by a life of materialistic seduction. She wonders aloud if she is capable of providing the carnal pleasures Hulot seeks outside of their home.

Ultimately, both vice and virtue fail. Valérie is devoured by Montés' poison, a consequence of her blithe attitude toward his emotion.

 
 
Bette is unsuccessful in her effort to crush her cousin's family, and dies (as one critic puts it) "in the margins". Adeline's Catholic mercy, on the other hand, fails to redeem her husband, and her children are similarly powerless – as Victorin finally admits on the novel's last page. Like Raphael de Valentin in Balzac's 1831 novel La Peau de chagrin, Hulot is left with nothing but "vouloir": desire, a force which is both essential for human existence and eventually apocalyptic.
 
 

French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec depicted lesbian relationships similar to (though more explicit than) that of Bette and Valérie, as in his 1893 painting "In Bed".
 
 
Gender and homoeroticism
Gender roles, especially the figure of the ideal woman, are central to La Cousine Bette. The four leading female characters (Bette, Valérie, Adeline, and Hortense) embody stereotypically feminine traits. Each pair of women revolves around a man, and they compete for his attention: Valérie and Adeline for Baron Hulot; Bette and Hortense for Wenceslas Steinbock. Balzac's study of masculinity is limited to the insatiable lust of Hulot and the weak-willed inconstancy of Steinbock, with the occasional appearance of Victorin as a sturdy patriarch in his father's absence.

Critics pay special attention to Bette's lack of traditional femininity, and her unconventional relationships with two characters. She is described from the outset as having "des qualités d'homme" ("certain manly qualities"), with similar descriptions elsewhere. Her relationship and attitude toward Steinbock, moreover, hint at her masculinity. She commands him into submission, and even binds him with economic constraints by lending him the money to develop his sculpture. Her domination is tempered by maternal compassion, but the couple's relationship is compared to an abusive marriage: "Il fut comme une femme qui pardonne les mauvais traitements d'une semaine à cause des caresses d'un fugitif raccommodement." ("He was like a woman who forgives a week of ill-usage for the sake of a kiss and a brief reconciliation.")

Bette's relationship with Valérie is layered with overtones of lesbianism. Early in the book Bette is "captée" ("bewitched") by Valérie, and quickly declares to her: "Je vous aime, je vous estime, je suis à vous!" ("I love you, I esteem you, I am wholly yours!") This affection may have been platonic, but neighbors of the Marneffes – along with many readers – suspect that their bond transcends friendship.

As with Steinbock, Bette and Valérie assume butch and femme roles; the narration even mentions "Le contraste de la mâle et sèche nature de la Lorraine avec la jolie nature créole de Valérie" ("The contrast between Lisbeth's dry masculine nature and Valerie's creole prettiness"). The homoeroticism evolves through the novel, as Bette feeds on Valérie's power to seduce and control the Hulot men. As one critic says: "Valérie's body becomes, at least symbolically, the locus of Bette's only erotic pleasure."

  Wealth and society
As with many of his novels, Balzac analyzes the influence of history and social status in La Cousine Bette. The book takes places between 1838 and 1846, when the reign of Louis-Philippe reflected and directed significant changes in the social structure. Balzac was a legitimist favoring the House of Bourbon, and idolized Napoleon Bonaparte as a paragon of effective absolutist power. Balzac felt that French society under the House of Orléans lacked strong leadership, and was fragmented by the demands of parliament. He also believed that Catholicism provided guidance for the nation, and that its absence heralded moral decay.

Balzac demonstrated these beliefs through the characters' lives in La Cousine Bette. The conflict between Baron Hulot and the perfumer Crevel mirrors the animosity between the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime and the newly developed bourgeoisie of traders and industrial entrepreneurs. Although he despised the socialist politics of Eugène Sue, Balzac worried that bourgeois desperation for financial gain drove people from life's important virtues. The characters – especially Bette, Valérie, and Crevel – are fixated on their need for money, and do whatever they must to obtain it. As Crevel explains to Adeline: "Vous vous abusez, cher ange, si vous croyez que c'est le roi Louis-Philippe qui règne ... au-dessus de la Charte il y a la sainte, la vénérée, la solide, l'aimable, la gracieuse, la belle, la noble, la jeune, la toute-puissante pièce de cent sous!" ("You are quite mistaken, my angel, if you suppose that King Louis-Philippe rules us ... supreme above the Charter reigns the holy, venerated, substantial, delightful, obliging, beautiful, noble, ever-youthful, and all-powerful five-franc piece!")

Themes of corruption and salvation are brought to the fore as Valérie and Crevel lie dying from the mysterious poison. When his daughter urges him to meet with a priest, Crevel angrily refuses, mocking the church and indicating that his social stature will be his salvation: "la mort regarde à deux fois avant de frapper un maire de Paris!" ("Death thinks twice of it before carrying off a Mayor of Paris.") Valérie, meanwhile, makes a deathbed conversion and urges Bette to abandon her quest for revenge. Ever the courtesan, Valérie describes her new Christianity in terms of seduction: "je ne puis maintenant plaire qu'à Dieu! je vais tâcher de me réconcilier avec lui, ce sera ma dernière coquetterie!" ("I can please no one now but God. I will try to be reconciled to Him, and that will be my last flirtation ...!")

 
 
Reception and adaptations
The critical reaction to La Cousine Bette was immediate and positive, which Balzac did not expect. Whether due to the intensity of its creation or the tumult of his personal life, the author was surprised by the praise he received. He wrote: "I did not realize how good La Cousine Bette is ... There is an immense reaction in my favour. I have won!" The collected edition sold consistently well, and was reprinted nineteen times before the turn of the 20th century. 20th-century critics remain enthusiastic in their praise for the novel; Saintsbury insists it is "beyond all question one of the very greatest of [Balzac's] works". Biographer Graham Robb calls La Cousine Bette "the masterpiece of his premature old age".

Some 19th-century critics attacked the book, on the grounds that it normalized vice and corrupt living. Chief among these were disciples of the utopian theorist Charles Fourier; they disapproved of the "immorality" inherent in the novel's bleak resolution. Critics like Alfred Nettement and Eugène Marron declared that Balzac's sympathy lay with Baron Hulot and Valérie Marneffe. They lambasted him for not commenting more on the characters' degenerate behavior – the same stylistic choice later celebrated by naturalist writers Émile Zola and Hippolyte Taine.

Balzac's novel has been adapted several times for the screen. The first was in 1927, when French filmmaker Max DeRieux directed Alice Tissot in the title role. Margaret Tyzack played the role of Bette in the five part serial Cousin Bette made in 1971 by the BBC, which also starred Helen Mirren as Valérie Marneffe.

 
In 1921 actor Bette Davis, born Ruth Elizabeth Davis, chose Bette as her stage name in honor of Balzac's character.
 
 
The film Cousin Bette was released in 1998, directed by Des McAnuff. Jessica Lange starred in the title role, joined by Bob Hoskins as Crevel, and Elisabeth Shue as the singer Jenny Cadine. Screenwriters Lynn Siefert and Susan Tarr changed the story significantly, and eliminated Valérie. The 1998 film was panned by critics for its generally poor acting and awkward dialogue. Stephen Holden of the New York Times commented that the movie "treats the novel as a thoroughly modern social comedy peopled with raging narcissists, opportunists and flat-out fools". The 1998 film changed the novel quite drastically, retaining the basic idea of Bette avenging herself on her enemies, and not only eliminating Valerie, but letting Bette survive at the end.

La Cousine Bette was adapted for the stage by Jeffrey Hatcher, best known for his screenplay Stage Beauty (based on his stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty). The Antaeus Company in North Hollywood produced a workshop in 2008 and presented the world premiere of Cousin Bette in early 2010 in North Hollywood, California. The adaptation retains many of the main characters but places Bette as the story's narrator.

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Honore de Balzac

"Father Goriot"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

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1846
 
 
De Amicis Edmondo
 

Edmondo De Amicis (21 October 1846 – 11 March 1908) was an Italian novelist, journalist, poet and short-story writer. His best-known book is the children's novel Heart.

 

Edmondo De Amicis
  Early career
Born in Oneglia (today part of the city of Imperia), he went to the Military Academy of Modena, and became an Army officer in the new Kingdom of Italy. De Amicis fought in the battle of Custoza during the Third Independence War, a defeat of Savoy forces against the Austrian Empire; the spectacle left him disappointed, and contributed to his later decision to leave military life.

In Florence, he wrote his first sketches dealing with his frontline experience, collected as La vita militare ("Military Life", 1868), and first published by the journal of the Ministry of Defense, L'Italia Militare.

In 1870, he joined the staff of the journal La Nazione in Rome, and his correspondence at the time later served as base for his travel writings: Spagna (1873), Olanda (1874), Ricordi di Londra (1874), Marocco (1876), Costantinopoli (1878), Ricordi di Parigi (1879). A new edition of Costantinopoli, considered by many his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century, was published in 2005, with a foreword by Umberto Eco.

Heart success
Heart was issued by Treves on 17 October 1886, the first day of school in Italy. Its success was immense: in a few months it was printed in 40 Italian editions and translated into dozens of languages. Its praise for the creation of Italy in the previous decade contributed to its reception, but also made it draw criticism from some Roman Catholic politicians for failing to depict the nature of the Holy See's opposition to the annexation of Rome.

 
 
Later years
The nationalist message visible in De Amicis' works was soon fused with a commitment to socialism (a trend visible within Heart). In 1896, he adhered to the Italian Socialist Party. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1901.

His later works include: Sull'oceano (1889), dealing with the plight of Italian emigrants overseas, Il romanzo di un maestro (1890), Amore e ginnastica (1892), Maestrina degli operai (1895), La carrozza di tutti (1899), L'idioma gentile (1905), and Nuovi ritratti letterari e artistici (1908). At the same time, he contributed to the Turin-based Il Grido del Popolo - his articles were collected as Questione sociale ("Social Issues", 1894).

De Amicis died in Bordighera. His last years were marked by tragedy and spent in reclusion; he was marked by his mother's death, and the frequent conflicts with his wife - ultimately, these were the source of an even greater emotional shock for De Amicis, as they led to his son Furio's suicide (as schoolchildren, Furio and his brother Ugo had served as inspiration for Heart).

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1846
 
 
Dostoevsky: "Poor Folk"
 

Poor Folk (Russian: Бедные люди, Bednye Lyudi), sometimes translated as Poor People, is the first novella by Dostoevsky Fyodor , written over the span of nine months between 1844 and 1845. Dostoyevsky was in financial difficulty because of his extravagant living and his developing gambling addiction; although he had produced some translations of foreign novels, they had little success, and he decided to write a novel of his own to try to raise funds.

 
Inspired by the works of Gogol, Pushkin, and Karamzin, as well as English and French authors, Poor Folk is written in the form of letters between the two main characters, Makar Devushkin and Varvara Dobroselova, who are poor second cousins. The novel showcases the life of poor people, their relationship with rich people, and poverty in general, all common themes of literary naturalism. A deep but odd friendship develops between them until Dobroselova loses her interest in literature, and later in communicating with Devushkin after a rich widower Mr. Bykov proposes to her. Devushkin, a prototype of the clerk found in many works of naturalistic literature at that time, retains his sentimental characteristics; Dobroselova abandons art, while Devushkin cannot live without literature.

Contemporary critics lauded Poor Folk for its humanitarian themes. While Vissarion Belinsky dubbed the novel Russia's first "social novel" and Alexander Herzen called it a major socialist work, other critics detected parody and satire. The novel uses a complicated polyphony of voices from different perspectives and narrators. Initially offered by Dostoyevsky to the liberal-leaning magazine Fatherland Notes, the novel was published in the almanac, St. Petersburg Collection, on January 15, 1846. It became a huge success nationwide. Parts of it were translated into German by Wilhelm Wolfsohn and published in an 1846/1847 magazine. The first English translation was provided by Lena Milman in 1894, with an introduction by George Moore, cover art design by Aubrey Beardsley and publication by London's Mathews and Lane.

 
 
Plot
Varvara Dobroselova and Makar Devushkin are second cousins twice-removed and live across from each other on the same street in terrible apartments. Devushkin's, for example, is merely a portioned-off section of the kitchen, and he lives with several other tenants, such as the Gorshkovs, whose son who groans in agonizing hunger almost the entire story and eventually dies. Devushkin and Dobroselova exchange letters attesting to their terrible living conditions and the former frequently squanders his money on gifts for her.
The reader progressively learns their history. Dobroselova originally lived in the country, but moved to St. Petersburg (which she hates) when her father lost his job. Her father becomes very violent and her mother severely depressed. Her father dies and they move in with Anna Fyodorovna, a landlady who was previously cruel to them but at least pretends to feel sympathy for their situation. Dobroselova is tutored by a poor student named Pokrovsky, whose drunken father occasionally visits. She eventually falls in love with Pokrovsky. She struggles to save a measly amount of money to purchase the complete works of Pushkin at the market for his birthday present, then allows his father to give the books to him instead, claiming that just knowing he received the books will be enough for her happiness.
Pokrovsky falls ill soon after, and his dying wish is to see the sun and the world outside. Dobroselova obliges by opening the blinds to reveal grey clouds and dirty rain. In response Pokrovsky only shakes his head and then passes away.
 
Varvara Dobroselova
 
 
Dobroselova's mother dies shortly afterwards, and Dobroselova is left in the care of Anna for a time, but the abuse becomes too much and she goes to live with Fedora across the street.

Devushkin works as a lowly copyist, frequently belittled and picked on by his work colleagues. His clothing is worn and dirty, and his living conditions are perhaps worse than Dobroselova's. He considers himself a rat in society. He and Dobroselova exchange letters (and occasional visits that are never detailed), and eventually they also begin to exchange books. Devushkin becomes offended when she sends him a copy of "The Overcoat", because he finds the main character is living a life similar to his own.

Dobroselova considers moving to another part of the city where she can work as a governess. Just as he is out of money and risks being evicted, Devushkin has a stroke of luck: his boss takes pity on him and gives him 100 rubles to buy new clothes. Devushkin pays off his debts and sends some to Dobroselova. She sends him 25 rubles back because she does not need it. The future looks bright for both of them because he can now start to save money and it may be possible for them to move in together.

The writer Ratazyayev, who jokes about using Devushkin as a character in one of his stories offends him, but genuinely seems to like him. Eventually Devushkin's pride is assuaged and their friendship is restored. The Gorshkovs come into money because the father's case is won in court. With the generous settlement they seem to be destined to be perfectly happy, but the father dies, leaving his family in a shambles despite the money. Soon after this, Dobroselova announces that a rich man, Mr. Bykov who had dealings with Anna Fyodorovna and Pokrovsky's father, has proposed to her. She decides to leave with him, and the last few letters attest to her slowly becoming accustomed to her new money.

She asks Devushkin to find linen for her and begins to talk about various luxuries, but leaves him alone in the end despite his improving fortunes. In the last correspondence in the story, on September 29, Devushkin begs Dobroselova to write to him. Dobroselova responds saying that "all is over" an to not forget her. The last letter is from Devushkin saying that he loves her and that he will die when he leaves her.

 
 
Main characters
Makar Alekseyevich Devushkin (Макар Алексеевич Девушкин) – the protagonist of Poor Folk is a shy, poor and lonely forty-seven-year-old clerk and copyist. He has been compared to other clerks from the "natural school" such as "The Overcoat"'s Akaka Akakievich. Although trying to use literature to understand life, Devushkin does not discuss these topics separately, and falsely believes that Dobroselova's letters reflect his life, taking short stories as realistic works. He exhibits typical sentimental characteristics; according to Robert Payne, Dostoyevsky "writes on the edge of sentimentality, but he is a completely credible and rounded figure". Devushkin's name derives from devushka, meaning maiden or girl, possibly symbolizing virginity and innocence, although Joseph Frank remarked it is an incongruent description.

Varvara Alekseyevna Dobroselova (Варвара Алексеевна Добросёлова) – lives in similar conditions as Devushkin. Her decision to live with the unscrupulous Mr. Bykov makes her an outsider, not typical of sentimental novels; unlike the heroine in Samuel Richardson's 1748 novel Clarissa, she chooses the materialistic path and loses her interest in literature. Her name derives from dobro, meaning good, symbolizing her good-hearted personality.
Mr. Bykov (Быков) – an old, rich, brutal widower. Successfully proposes to Dobroselova at the end. His name derives from byk, meaning bull, symbolizing sexual power and lust.
 
Makar Devushkin
 
 
Creation
Dostoyevsky showed interest in literature since his childhood. His mother's subscription to the Library of Reading enabled the family entry into the leading contemporary Russian and non-Russian literature. Gothic tales, such as by Ann Radcliffe, was the first genre Dostoyevsky was introduced to. Other formative influences were the works by the poets Alexander Pushkin and Vasily Zhukovsky, heroic epics usually by Homer and chivalric novels by Cervantes and Walter Scott.

Dostoyevsky initially attended the best private school in Moscow, the Chermak boarding school. Founded by a Czech immigrant, who moved to Russia after the Napoleonic Wars, it put strong emphasis on literature. As the school required 800 rubles per year, his father had to do additional work and ask his aristocratic relatives, the Kumanins, for money. Although Dostoyevsky settled in well, he had to leave after his mother's death on 27 September 1837 led to financial problems for his family. He was sent to the Military Engineering-Technical University, he had problems adjusting to life there, but nevertheless managed to graduate on 12 August 1843 as a military engineer.

After his graduation, he lived a quite liberal lifestyle, attending many plays and the ballets of composers Ole Bull and Franz Liszt, and renting an expensive apartment, the Prianishnikov House, for 1,200 rubles, even though he was only earning 5,000 rubles per year. These events and his introduction to casinos were responsible for his deteriorating financial situation. He worked as a translator, but the translations he completed in 1843, such as Balzac's Eugénie Grandet and Sand's La dernière Aldini, were not very successful.

  His gambling and betting on billiard games were a huge drain on his funds because of his frequent losses. As a consequence, Dostoyevsky was often forced to ask his relatives for money, but he felt uncomfortable doing so and decided to write a novel to raise money. "It's simply a case" Dostoyevsky wrote to his brother Mikhail, "of my novel covering all. If I fail in this, I'll hang myself."
Dostoyevsky began working on Poor Folk in early 1844. He first mentioned the upcoming work in a letter to Mikhail on 30 September 1844: "I am finishing up a novel of the size of Eugénie Grandet. It's a rather original work." Dostoyevsky later wrote to his brother on 23 March 1845, "I finished the novel in November, then rewrote it in December, and again in February–March. I am seriously satisfied with my novel. It is a serious and elegant work ..." Sometime around April 1845, his friend Dmitry Grigorovich, with whom he had shared an apartment since the autumn of 1844, proposed giving the manuscript to poet Nikolay Nekrasov, who was planning to issue an anthology in 1846. Dostoyevsky took the manuscript to Nekrasov and returned home. Shortly afterwards the doorbell of his house rang, and he opened the door to the excited Nekrasov and Grigorovich, both of whom congratulated him on his debut novel, of which they had only read 10 pages. They finished the full 112-page work during the night at Dostoyevsky's apartment. The next morning, the three men went to the critic Vissarion Belinsky; Nekrasov proclaimed Dostoyevsky "the New Gogol" though Belinsky replied sceptically "You find Gogol's springing up like mushrooms". Dostoyevsky himself did not believe his book would receive a positive review from Belinsky, but when Nekrasov visited Belinsky in the evening, the latter wanted to meet Dostoyevsky to congratulate him on his debut. Dostoyevsky proposed to issue Poor Folk in the Fatherland Notes, but it was instead published in the almanac St. Petersburg Collection on January 15, 1846.
 
 
Themes and style
Poor Folk explores poverty and the relationship between the poor and the rich, common themes of literary naturalism. Largely influenced by Nikolai Gogol's "The Overcoat", Alexander Pushkin's "The Stationmaster" and Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Peter Abelard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil, it is an epistolary novel composed of letters written by Varvara and her close friend Makar Devushkin. The name of the book and the main female character were adapted from Karamzin's Poor Liza. Additional elements include the backgrounds of the two protagonists and the tragic ending, both typical characteristics of a middle-class novel.

Belinsky and others saw "The Overcoat" as the inspiration for the novel. Later critics stated that the sentimental-humanitarian Poor Folk contained a great deal of parody and satire of Gogol books; however, there are some dissenters. Karin Jeanette Harmon guesses in "Double Parody Equals Anti-Parody" that Dostoyevsky mixes the parody of the sentimental epistolary novel with the parody of the naturalistic sketch of the clerk. Robert Payne rejects the idea of any satiric content; he notes that satire began in The Double. A similar view was held by Belinsky, who also stated that "Dostoyevsky's talent is ... not descriptive, but to the highest degree creative." Victor Terras thought that Dostoyevsky did not use satire except in a few cases, but instead employed a "humor derived from the eternal conflict between the simple soul of a good man and the complex apparatus of the soulless, institutionalized society run by 'clever' people." Joseph Frank, who suggested that the whole work is a "serious parody", recalled that Poor Folk burlesques the "high-society adventure novel, the Gogolian humorous local color-tale" and "the debunking physiological sketch". Victor Terras dubbed it a "travesty of the sentimental epistolary love story." The Contemporary stated "In this work comedy is somehow explored and includes an appreciable tone, colour and even the language of Gogol and Kvitka".

 
Makar Devushkin
 
 
"Through his tale", wrote The Northern Bee, "Dostoyevsky wanted to utilize Gogol's humour with naive simplicity of the undisturbed Osnovyanenko."

According to critic Rebecca Epstein Matveyev, Pushkin's "The Stationmaster" serves as a "thematic subtext, as a basis for Devushkin's literary experiments, and as a resource for his epistolary relationship." Both, "The Stationmaster" and "The Overcoat", are mentioned in the letters between Dobroselova and Devushkin. Dostoyevsky may have chosen the epistolary genre to include his personal critical observations, similar to real-life letters between writer and addressee. According to Yakubovich, Dostoyevsky uses Poor Folk as his diary. However, as an external narrator is missing the only source for the character's motivation and personality is available in the letters and Dobroselova's diary. The numerous different voices, that is Devushkin's quotations from stories, his commentaries about these books and his own works, is an example of polyphony. These effects confuse the reader and hide the narrator.

 
 
Reception
Poor Folk received nationwide critical acclaim. Dostoyevsky observed that "the whole of Russia is talking about my Poor Folk". As soon as he read the manuscript for Poor Folk, Belinsky named it Russia's first "social novel". Alexander Herzen praised the book in his essay "About the Progress of Revolutionary Ideas in Russia", noting the book's "socialistic tendencies and animations." The work was classified by critic Pavel Annenkov as a work of the so-called "natural school". The newspaper The Northern Bee recorded:

News about a new genius, Mr. Dostoevsky, is circulating across St. Petersburg. We do not know whether it is his real name or a pen-name. The reading audience is praising his new novel, Poor People. I have read this novel and said: 'Poor Russian readers!' However, Mr. Dostoevsky is a man of some talent and, if he finds his way in literature, he will be able to write something decent."

—The Northern Bee, 1 February 1848, no. 27

 
First English language edition
 
 
Nikolay Dobrolyubov in the 1861 essay "Dowtrodden People", that Dostoyevsky studies poor reality and expresses humanistic ideas. He also praised him for illustrating human nature and taking out "souls in the centre of the depth which are caged after protesting for indentity against the exterior, violent pressure, and presents it to our verdict."

Apollon Grigoriev wrote in The Finnish Herald: "Dostoevsky starts to play in our literature the same role Hoffmann played in German literature ... He became so deeply immersed in the life of civil servants that the dull and uninteresting everyday life became for him a nightmare close to madness." Count Vladimir Sollogub also liked the novel, stating that "it was written with force and simplicity by a great talent." Valerian Maykov noted after a number of publications by Dostoyevsky: "Gogol was usually the leading social poet, while Dostoyevsky usually the leading psychological poet. The former is known as the representative of the contemporary society or contemporary circle, for the latter the society itself becomes interesting through its influence on other people."

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
     
 
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

"The Idiot"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

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1846
 
 
Maurus Jokai: "Weekdays"
 
 
Jokai Maurus
 

Móric Jókay de Ásva ([18 February 1825 – 5 May 1904), outside Hungary also known as Maurus Jokai, was a Hungarian dramatist and novelist.

 
Early life
He was born in Komárom, in the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Komárno in Slovakia). His father, József, was a member of the Ásva branch of the ancient Jókay family; his mother was a scion of the noble Pulays. The lad was timid and delicate, and therefore educated at home till his tenth year, when he was sent to Pozsony (today: Bratislava in Slovakia), subsequently completing his education at the Calvinist college at Pápa, where he first met Sándor Petőfi, Sándor Kozma, and several other brilliant young men who subsequently became famous.

After his father's death when Jókai was 12, his family had meant him to follow the law, his father's profession, and accordingly the youth, always singularly assiduous, plodded conscientiously through the usual curriculum at Kecskemét and Pest (part of what is now Budapest), and as a full-blown advocate actually succeeded in winning his first case.

 
 

Móric Jókay de Ásva
  Career
The drudgery of a lawyer's office was uncongenial to the ardently poetical youth, and, encouraged by the encomiums pronounced by the Hungarian Academy upon his first play, Zsidó fiú (The Jewish Boy), he flitted, when barely twenty, to Pest in 1845 with an MS. romance in his pocket; he was introduced by Petőfi to the literary notabilities of the Hungarian capital, and the same year his first notable romance Hétköznapok (Working Days), appeared, first in the columns of the Pesti Divatlap, and subsequently, in 1846, in book form. Hétköznapok, despite its manifest crudities and extravagances, was instantly recognized by all the leading critics as a work of original genius, and in the following year Jókai was appointed the editor of Életképek, the leading Hungarian literary journal, and gathered round him all the rising talent of the country.

He married the great tragic actress, Róza Benke Laborfalvi, on 29 August 1848. On the outbreak of the revolution of 1848, the young editor enthusiastically adopted the national cause, and served it with both pen and sword. Now, as ever, he was a moderate Liberal, setting his face steadily against all excesses; but, carried away by the Hungarian triumphs of April and May 1849, he supported Kossuth's fatal blunder of deposing the Habsburg dynasty. He was present at the surrender at Világos (now Şiria, Romania) in August, 1849. He intended to commit suicide to avoid imprisonment, but was spared by the arrival of his wife, with whom he made a difficult journey on foot through Russian lines to Pest.

 
 
Jókai lived for the next fourteen years the life of a political suspect. Yet this was perhaps the most glorious period of his existence, for during it he devoted himself to the rehabilitation of the proscribed and humiliated Magyar language, composing in it no fewer than thirty great romances, besides innumerable volumes of tales, essays, criticism and faceti. This was the period of such masterpieces as Erdély aranykora (The Golden Age of Transylvania), with its sequel Török világ Magyarországon (The Turks in Hungary), Egy magyar nábob (A Hungarian Nabob), with its sequel Kárpáthy Zoltán, Janicsárok végnapjai (The Last Days of the Janissaries), Szomorú napok (Sad Days).

On the re-establishment of the Hungarian constitution by the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Jókai took an active part in politics. As a constant supporter of the Tisza administration, not only in parliament, where he sat continuously for more than twenty years, but also as the editor of the government organ, Hon, founded by him in 1863, he became a power in the state, and, though he never took office himself, frequently extricated the government from difficult places. In 1897 the king appointed him a member of the upper house. In 1899 he created a country-wide scandal by contracting a marriage with Bella Nagy, a young actress.

Jókai died in Budapest on 5 May 1904, his first wife having predeceased him on 20 November 1886. Both were buried at the Kerepesi Cemetery.

 
 


Móric Jókay de Ásva

  His writings
Jókai was extremely prolific. It was to literature that he continued to devote most of his time, and his productiveness after 1870 was stupendous, amounting to some hundreds of volumes. Stranger still, none of this work is slipshod, and the best of it deserves to endure.

Amongst the finest of his later works may be mentioned the unique and incomparable Az arany ember (A Man of Gold, translated into English, among others, under the title The Man with the Golden Touch), the most popular A kőszívű ember fiai (The Heartless Man's Sons), the heroic chronicle of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and A tengerszemű hölgy (Eyes like the Sea), the latter of which won the Academy's prize in 1890. He was also an amateur chess player (see: Mór Jókai Museum in Balatonfüred).

His jövő század regénye (The novel of the next century - 1872) is accounted an important early work of Science Fiction though the term did not yet exist at the time). In spite of its romantic trappings, this monumental two-volume novel includes some acute observations and almost prophetic visions, such as the prediction of a revolution in Russia and the establishment of a totalitarian state there, or the arrival of aviation. Because it could be read as a satirical allegory on Leninism and Stalinism in the Soviet Union, the book was banned in Hungary in the decades of the Communist régime. (Its "Critical Edition" was delayed until 1981.)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
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1846
 
 
Keller Gottfried: "Gedichte"
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
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1846
 
 
Edward Lear: "Book of Nonsense"
 
 
Lear Edward
 

Edward Lear, (born May 12, 1812, Highgate, near London, England—died January 29, 1888, San Remo, Italy), English landscape painter who is more widely known as the writer of an original kind of nonsense verse and as the popularizer of the limerick. His true genius is apparent in his nonsense poems, which portray a world of fantastic creatures in nonsense words, often suggesting a deep underlying sense of melancholy. Their quality is matched, especially in the limericks, by that of his engaging pen-and-ink drawings.

 

Edward Lear
  The youngest of 21 children, Lear was brought up by his eldest sister, Ann, and from age 15 earned his living by drawing. He subsequently worked for the British Museum, made drawings of birds for the ornithologist John Gould, and, during 1832–37, made illustrations of the earl of Derby’s private menagerie at Knowsley, Lancashire.

Lear had a natural affinity for children, and it was for the earl’s grandchildren that he produced A Book of Nonsense (1846, enlarged 1861). In 1835 he decided to become a landscape painter.

Lear suffered all his life from epilepsy and melancholia. After 1837 he lived mainly abroad. Though naturally timid, he was a constant and intrepid traveler, exploring Italy, Greece, Albania, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and, later, India and Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]. An indefatigable worker, he produced innumerable pen and watercolour sketches of great topographical accuracy.

He worked these up into the carefully finished watercolours and large oil paintings that were his financial mainstay. During his nomadic life he lived, among other places, at Rome, Corfu, and, finally, with his celebrated cat, Foss, at San Remo.

 
 
Lear published three volumes of bird and animal drawings, seven illustrated travel books (notably Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania, &c., 1851), and four books of nonsense—A Book of Nonsense mentioned earlier, Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets (1871), More Nonsense, Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc. (1872), and Laughable Lyrics (1877). A posthumous collection, Queery Leary Nonsense (1911), was edited by Constance Braham Strachey.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
1846
 
 
Longfellow Henry Wadsworth: "The Belfry of Bruges"
 
 

Longfellow: "The Belfry of Bruges"
 
 
 
     
 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The Song of Hiawatha"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
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1846
 
 
Herman Melville: "Typee"
 
 
Melville Herman
 

Herman Melville, (born Aug. 1, 1819, New York City—died Sept. 28, 1891, New York City), American novelist, short-story writer, and poet, best known for his novels of the sea, including his masterpiece, Moby Dick (1851).

 

Herman Melville
  Heritage and youth
Melville’s heritage and youthful experiences were perhaps crucial in forming the conflicts underlying his artistic vision. He was the third child of Allan and Maria Gansevoort Melvill, in a family that was to grow to four boys and four girls. His forebears had been among the Scottish and Dutch settlers of New York and had taken leading roles in the American Revolution and in the fiercely competitive commercial and political life of the new country. One grandfather, Maj. Thomas Melvill, was a member of the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and was subsequently a New York importer. The other, Gen. Peter Gansevoort, was a friend of James Fenimore Cooper and famous for leading the defense of Ft. Stanwix, in upstate New York, against the British.

In 1826 Allan Melvill wrote of his son as being “backward in speech and somewhat slow in comprehension . . . of a docile and amiable disposition.” In that same year, scarlet fever left the boy with permanently weakened eyesight, but he attended Male High School. When the family import business collapsed in 1830, the family returned to Albany, where Herman enrolled briefly in Albany Academy. Allan Melvill died in 1832, leaving his family in desperate straits. The eldest son, Gansevoort, assumed responsibility for the family and took over his father’s felt and fur business. 

 
 
Herman joined him after two years as a bank clerk and some months working on the farm of his uncle, Thomas Melvill, in Pittsfield, Mass. About this time, Herman’s branch of the family altered the spelling of its name. Though finances were precarious, Herman attended Albany Classical School in 1835 and became an active member of a local debating society. A teaching job in Pittsfield made him unhappy, however, and after three months he returned to Albany.
 
 

Herman Melville
  Wanderings and voyages
Young Melville had already begun writing, but the remainder of his youth became a quest for security. A comparable pursuit in the spiritual realm was to characterize much of his writing. The crisis that started Herman on his wanderings came in 1837, when Gansevoort went bankrupt and the family moved to nearby Lansingburgh (later Troy). In what was to be a final attempt at orthodox employment, Herman studied surveying at Lansingburgh Academy to equip himself for a post with the Erie Canal project. When the job did not materialize, Gansevoort arranged for Herman to ship out as cabin boy on the “St. Lawrence,” a merchant ship sailing in June 1839 from New York City for Liverpool. The summer voyage did not dedicate Melville to the sea, and on his return his family was dependent still on the charity of relatives. After a grinding search for work, he taught briefly in a school that closed without paying him. His uncle Thomas, who had left Pittsfield for Illinois, apparently had no help to offer when the young man followed him west. In January 1841 Melville sailed on the whaler “Acushnet,” from New Bedford, Mass., on a voyage to the South Seas.

In June 1842 the “Acushnet” anchored in the Marquesas Islands in present-day French Polynesia. Melville’s adventures here, somewhat romanticized, became the subject of his first novel, Typee (1846). In July Melville and a companion jumped ship and, according to Typee, spent about four months as guest-captives of the reputedly cannibalistic Typee people.

 
 
Actually, in August he was registered in the crew of the Australian whaler “Lucy Ann.” Whatever its precise correspondence with fact, however, Typee was faithful to the imaginative impact of the experience on Melville. Despite intimations of danger, Melville represented the exotic valley of the Typees as an idyllic sanctuary from a hustling, aggressive civilization.

Although Melville was down for a 120th share of the whaler’s proceeds, the voyage had been unproductive. He joined a mutiny that landed the mutineers in a Tahitian jail, from which he escaped without difficulty. On these events and their sequel, Melville based his second book, Omoo (1847). Lighthearted in tone, with the mutiny shown as something of a farce, it describes Melville’s travels through the islands, accompanied by Long Ghost, formerly the ship’s doctor, now turned drifter. The carefree roving confirmed Melville’s bitterness against colonial and, especially, missionary debasement of the native Tahitian peoples.

These travels, in fact, occupied less than a month. In November he signed as a harpooner on his last whaler, the “Charles & Henry,” out of Nantucket, Mass. Six months later he disembarked at Lahaina, in the Hawaiian Islands. Somehow he supported himself for more than three months; then in August 1843 he signed as an ordinary seaman on the frigate “United States,” which in October 1844 discharged him in Boston.

 
 

Herman Melville
  The years of acclaim
Melville rejoined a family whose prospects had much improved. Gansevoort, who after James K. Polk’s victory in the 1844 presidential elections had been appointed secretary to the U.S. legation in London, was gaining political renown. Encouraged by his family’s enthusiastic reception of his tales of the South Seas, Melville wrote them down. The years of acclaim were about to begin for Melville.

Typee provoked immediate enthusiasm and outrage, and then a year later Omoo had an identical response. Gansevoort, dead of a brain disease, never saw his brother’s career consolidated, but the bereavement left Melville head of the family and the more committed to writing to support it. Another responsibility came with his marriage in August 1847 to Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of the chief justice of Massachusetts. He tried unsuccessfully for a job in the U.S. Treasury Department, the first of many abortive efforts to secure a government post.

In 1847 Melville began a third book, Mardi (1849), and became a regular contributor of reviews and other pieces to a literary journal. To his new literary acquaintances in New York City he appeared the character of his own books—extravert, vigorous, “with his cigar and his Spanish eyes,” as one writer described him.

 
 
Melville resented this somewhat patronizing stereotype, and in her reminiscences his wife recalled him in a different aspect, writing in a bitterly cold, fireless room in winter. He enjoined his publisher not to call him “the author of Typee and Omoo,” for his third book was to be different. When it appeared, public and critics alike found its wild, allegorical fantasy and medley of styles incomprehensible. It began as another Polynesian adventure but quickly set its hero in pursuit of the mysterious Yillah, “all beauty and innocence,” a symbolic quest that ends in anguish and disaster. Concealing his disappointment at the book’s reception, Melville quickly wrote Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850) in the manner expected of him. In October 1849 Melville sailed to England to resolve his London publisher’s doubts about White-Jacket. He also visited the Continent, kept a journal, and arrived back in America in February 1850. The critics acclaimed White-Jacket, and its powerful criticism of abuses in the U.S. Navy won it strong political support. But both novels, however much they seemed to revive the Melville of Typee, had passages of profoundly questioning melancholy. It was not the same Melville who wrote them. He had been reading Shakespeare with “eyes which are as tender as young sparrows,” particularly noting sombre passages in Measure for Measure and King Lear. This reading struck deeply sympathetic responses in Melville, counterbalancing the Transcendental doctrines of Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose general optimism about human goodness he had heard in lectures. A fresh imaginative influence was supplied by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, a novel deeply exploring good and evil in the human being, which Melville read in the spring of 1850. That summer, Melville bought a farm, which he christened “Arrowhead,” near Hawthorne’s home at Pittsfield, and the two men became neighbours physically as well as in sympathies.
 
 
Melville had promised his publishers for the autumn of 1850 the novel first entitled The Whale, finally Moby Dick. His delay in submitting it was caused less by his early-morning chores as a farmer than by his explorations into the unsuspected vistas opened for him by Hawthorne. Their relationship reanimated Melville’s creative energies. On his side, it was dependent, almost mystically intense—“an infinite fraternity of feeling,” he called it. To the cooler, withdrawn Hawthorne, such depth of feeling so persistently and openly declared was uncongenial. The two men gradually drew apart. They met for the last time, almost as strangers, in 1856, when Melville visited Liverpool, where Hawthorne was American consul.

Moby Dick was published in London in October 1851 and a month later in America. It brought its author neither acclaim nor reward. Basically its story is simple. Captain Ahab pursues the white whale, Moby Dick, which finally kills him. At that level, it is an intense, superbly authentic narrative of whaling. In the perverted grandeur of Captain Ahab and in the beauties and terrors of the voyage of the “Pequod,” however, Melville dramatized his deeper concerns: the equivocal defeats and triumphs of the human spirit and its fusion of creative and murderous urges. In his private afflictions, Melville had found universal metaphors. Increasingly a recluse to the point that some friends feared for his sanity, Melville embarked almost at once on Pierre (1852). It was an intensely personal work, revealing the sombre mythology of his private life framed in terms of a story of an artist alienated from his society.

 
Melville: Moby Dick
 
 
In it can be found the humiliated responses to poverty that his youth supplied him plentifully and the hypocrisy he found beneath his father’s claims to purity and faithfulness. His mother he had idolized; yet he found the spirituality of her love betrayed by sexual love. The novel, a slightly veiled allegory of Melville’s own dark imaginings, was rooted in these relations. When published, it was another critical and financial disaster. Only 33 years old, Melville saw his career in ruins. Near breakdown, and having to face in 1853 the disaster of a fire at his New York publishers that destroyed most of his books, Melville persevered with writing.

Israel Potter, plotted before his introduction to Hawthorne and his work, was published in 1855, but its modest success, clarity of style, and apparent simplicity of subject did not indicate a decision by Melville to write down to public taste. His contributions to Putnam’s Monthly Magazine—“Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853), “The Encantadas” (1854), and “Benito Cereno” (1855)—reflected the despair and the contempt for human hypocrisy and materialism that possessed him increasingly.

In 1856 Melville set out on a tour of Europe and the Levant to renew his spirits. The most powerful passages of the journal he kept are in harmony with The Confidence-Man (1857), a despairing satire on an America corrupted by the shabby dreams of commerce. This was the last of his novels to be published in his lifetime. Three American lecture tours were followed by his final sea journey, in 1860, when he joined his brother Thomas, captain of the clipper “Meteor,” for a voyage around Cape Horn. He abandoned the trip in San Francisco.

 
 

Herman Melville
  The years of withdrawal
Melville abandoned the novel for poetry, but the prospects for publication were not favourable. With two sons and daughters to support, Melville sought government patronage. A consular post he sought in 1861 went elsewhere. On the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered for the Navy, but was again rejected. He had apparently returned full cycle to the insecurity of his youth, but an inheritance from his father-in-law brought some relief and “Arrowhead,” increasingly a burden, was sold. By the end of 1863, the family was living in New York City. The war was much on his mind and furnished the subject of his first volume of verse, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), published privately. Four months after it appeared, an appointment as a customs inspector on the New York docks finally brought him a secure income.

Despite poor health, Melville began a pattern of writing evenings, weekends, and on vacations. In 1867 his son Malcolm shot himself, accidentally the jury decided, though it appeared that he had quarrelled with his father the night before his death. His second son, Stanwix, who had gone to sea in 1869, died in a San Francisco hospital in 1886 after a long illness. Throughout these griefs, and for the whole of his 19 years in the customs house, Melville’s creative pace was understandably slowed.

His second collection of verse, John Marr, and Other Sailors; With Some Sea-Pieces, appeared in 1888, again privately published. By then he had been in retirement for three years, assisted by legacies from friends and relatives. His new leisure he devoted, he wrote in 1889, to “certain matters as yet incomplete.” Among them was Timoleon (1891), a final verse collection.

 
 
More significant was the return to prose that culminated in his last work, the novel Billy Budd, which remained unpublished until 1924. Provoked by a false charge, the sailor Billy Budd accidentally kills the satanic master-at-arms. In a time of threatened mutiny he is hanged, going willingly to his fate. Evil has not wholly triumphed, and Billy’s memory lives on as an emblem of good. Here there is, if not a statement of being reconciled fully to life, at least the peace of resignation. The manuscript ends with the date April 19, 1891. Five months later Melville died. His life was neither happy nor, by material standards, successful. By the end of the 1840s he was among the most celebrated of American writers, yet his death evoked but a single obituary notice.

In the internal tensions that put him in conflict with his age lay a strangely 20th-century awareness of the deceptiveness of realities and of the instability of personal identity. Yet his writings never lost sight of reality. His symbols grew from such visible facts, made intensely present, as the dying whales, the mess of blubber, and the wood of the ship, in Moby Dick. For Melville, as for Shakespeare, man was ape and essence, inextricably compounded; and the world, like the “Pequod,” was subject to “two antagonistic influences . . . one to mount direct to heaven, the other to drive yawingly to some horizontal goal.” It was Melville’s triumph that he endured, recording his vision to the end. After the years of neglect, modern criticism has secured his reputation with that of the great American writers.

D.E.S. Maxwell

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
Herman Melville: "Typee"
 

Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life is the first book by American writer Herman Melville, published first in London, then New York, in 1846. Considered a classic in travel and adventure literature, the narrative is based on the author's actual experiences as a captive on the island Nuku Hiva in the South Pacific Marquesas Islands in 1842, but is liberally supplemented with imaginative reconstruction and adaptation of material from other books. The title is from the name of a valley there called Tai Pi Vai. Typee was Melville's most popular work during his lifetime, and made him notorious as the "man who lived among the cannibals".

 
Background
Typee was "in fact, neither literal autobiography nor pure fiction." Melville "drew his material from his experiences, from his imagination, and from a variety of travel books when the memory of his experiences were inadequate." He departed from what actually happened in several ways, sometimes by extending factual incidents, sometimes by fabricating them, and sometimes by what one scholar calls "outright lies."

The actual one month stay on which Typee is based is presented as four months in the narrative. There is no lake on the actual island on which Melville might have canoed with the lovely Fayaway and the ridge which Melville describes climbing after escaping the ship he may actually have seen in an engraving. He drew extensively on contemporary accounts by Pacific explorers to add to what might otherwise have been a straightforward story of escape, capture, and re-escape. Most American reviewers accepted the story as authentic, though it provoked disbelief among some British readers.

Two years after its publication, many of the novel's events were corroborated by Melville's fellow castaway, Richard Tobias. "Toby" Greene.

 
 
Critical response
Critical opinion on Typee is divided. Scholars have traditionally focused attention on Melville's treatment of race, and the narrator's portrayal of his hosts as noble savages, but there is considerable disagreement as to what extent the values, attitudes and beliefs expressed are Melville's own, and whether Typee reinforces or challenges racist assessments of Pacific culture.

Typee's narrative did express sympathy for the "savages", while criticizing the missionaries' attempts to "civilize" them:

It may be asserted without fear of contradictions that in all the cases of outrages committed by Polynesians, Europeans have at some time or other been the aggressors, and that the cruel and bloodthirsty disposition of some of the islanders is mainly to be ascribed to the influence of such examples.

(The) he voluptuous Indian, with every desire supplied, whom Providence has bountifully provided with all the sources of pure and natural enjoyment, and from whom are removed so many of the ills and pains of life—what has he to desire at the hands of Civilization? Will he be the happier? Let the once smiling and populous Hawaiian islands, with their now diseased, starving, and dying natives, answer the question. The missionaries may seek to disguise the matter as they will, but the facts are incontrovertible.

In Typee, the character Tommo is terrified of being permanently absorbed into native society. Critics have given much attention to his fear of cannibalism.

 
First edition title page
 
 
The novel states that Typee natives ate an inhabitant of one of the neighboring valleys. The natives who captured Melville reassured him that he would not be eaten.

Typee may have provided the writers Robert Louis Stevenson, Louis Becke and Jack London with the themes and images of the Pacific experience: cannibalism, cultural absorption, colonialism, exoticism, eroticism, natural plenty and beauty, and a perceived simplicity of native lifestyle, desires and motives.

The Knickerbocker called Typee "a piece of Münchhausenism". New York publisher Evert Augustus Duyckinck wrote to Nathaniel Hawthorne that "it is a lively and pleasant book, not over philosophical perhaps."

 
 
Publication history
Typee was published first in London by John Murray on February 26, 1846, and then in New York by Wiley and Putnam on March 17, 1846.

The same version was published in the United States; however, critical references to missionaries and Christianity were removed by Melville from the second US edition at the request of his American publisher.

Later additions included a "Sequel: The Story of Toby" written by Melville explaining what happened to Toby.

Before its publication, the publisher asked Melville to remove one sentence. In a scene where the Dolly is boarded by young women from Nukuheva, Melville originally wrote:

Our ship was now given up to every species of riot and debauchery. Not the feeblest barrier was interposed between the unholy passions of the crew and their unlimited gratification.

The second sentence was removed from the final version.

The inaugural book of the Library of America series was a volume containing Typee, Omoo, and Mardi, published on May 6, 1982.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Fayaway
 
 
 
     
 
Herman Melville

"Moby Dick or The Whale"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1846
 
 
Sand George : "La Mare au diable"
 
 

George Sand: "La Mare au diable"
 
 
see also: George Sand
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1846
 
 
Sienkiewicz Henryk
 
Henryk Sienkiewicz, in full Henryk Adam Alexander Pius Sienkiewicz, pseudonym Litwos (born May 5, 1846, Wola Okrzejska, Poland—died November 15, 1916, Vevey, Switzerland), Polish novelist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905.
 

Henryk Sienkiewicz
  Sienkiewicz’s family owned a small estate but lost everything and moved to Warsaw, where Sienkiewicz studied literature, history, and philology at Warsaw University. He left the university in 1871 without taking a degree. He had begun to publish critical articles in 1869 that showed the influence of Positivism, a system of philosophy—popular in Poland and elsewhere at the time—emphasizing in particular the achievements of science. His first novel, Na marne (In Vain), was published in 1872, and his first short story, “Stary sługa” (“An Old Retainer”), in 1875.

Sienkiewicz traveled in the United States (1876–78) and, upon his return to Poland after a prolonged stay in Paris, published a number of successful short stories, among them “Janko muzykant” (1879; “Yanko the Musician”), “Latarnik” (1882; “The Lighthouse Keeper”), and “Bartek zwyciezca” (1882; “Bartek the Conqueror”). The last story appears in a volume of his stories entitled Charcoal Sketches and Other Tales (1990), and there is also a volume of his stories entitled Selected Tales (1976).

From 1882 to 1887 Sienkiewicz was coeditor of the daily Słowo (“The Word”). In 1900, to celebrate the 30th year of his career as a writer, the Polish people presented him with the small estate of Oblęgorek, near Kielce in south-central Poland, where he lived until 1914.

 
 
At the outbreak of World War I he went to Switzerland, where, together with the famous politician and pianist Ignacy Paderewski, he promoted the cause of Polish independence and organized relief for Polish war victims.

Sienkiewicz’s great trilogy of historical novels began to appear in Słowo in 1883. It comprises Ogniem i mieczem (1884; With Fire and Sword; filmed 1999), Potop (1886; The Deluge; filmed 1974), and Pan Wołodyjowski (1887–88; Pan Michael, also published as Fire in the Steppe; filmed 1969). Set in the later 17th century, the trilogy describes Poland’s struggles against Cossacks, Tatars, Swedes, and Turks, stressing Polish heroism with epic range and with clarity and simplicity. The finest of the three works, With Fire and Sword, describes the Poles’ attempts to halt the rebellion of the Zaporozhian Cossacks led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

Sienkiewicz’s other novels include the widely translated Quo vadis? (1896; Eng. trans. Quo vadis; filmed 1909, 1913, 1951, 2001), a historical novel set in Rome under Nero, which established Sienkiewicz’s international reputation. Although Sienkiewicz’s major novels have been criticized for their theatricality and lack of historical accuracy, they display great narrative power and contain vivid characterizations.

Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1846
 
 
George Watts: "Paolo and Francesca"
 
 

Watts George Frederic: "Paolo and Francesca"
 
 
 
     
 
George Frederic Watts
     
 
 
     
  Neoclassicism and Romanticism
Realism, Impressionism and
Post-Impressionism
Symbolism
     
 
 
 
1846
 
 
De Nittis Giuseppe
 

Giuseppe De Nittis (February 25, 1846 – August 21, 1884) was an Italian painter whose work merges the styles of Salon art and Impressionism.

 

Giuseppe De Nittis, Self-portrait
  Biography
De Nittis was born in Barletta, where he first studied under Giovanni Battista Calò. After being expelled in 1863 from the Instituto di Belle Arti in Naples for insubordination, he launched his career with the exhibition of two paintings at the 1864 Neapolitan Promotrice. De Nittis came into contact with some of the artists known as the Macchiaioli, becoming friends with Telemaco Signorini, and exhibiting in Florence.

In 1867 he moved to Paris and entered into a contract with the art dealer Adolphe Goupil which called for him to produce saleable genre works. After gaining some visibility by exhibiting at the Salon he returned to Italy where, now free to paint from nature, he produced several views of Vesuvius.

In 1872 De Nittis returned to Paris and, no longer under contract to Goupil, achieved a success at the Salon with his painting Che freddo! (Freezing!) of 1874. In that same year he was invited to exhibit at the first Impressionist exhibition, held at Nadar's. The invitation came from Edgar Degas, who was a friend of several Italian artists residing in Paris, including Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Boldini and Federico Zandomeneghi. De Nittis was not accepted by all of the Impressionists, and did not participate in their subsequent exhibitions.

A trip to London resulted in a number of Impressionistic paintings. In 1875 De Nittis took up pastels, which became an important medium for him in his remaining years and which he helped popularize.

 
 
Back in Paris, where his home was a favorite gathering place for Parisian writers and artists, as well as expatriate Italians, he executed pastel portraits of sitters including De Goncourt, Zola, Manet and Duranty. He preferred pastels as the medium for his largest works, such as the triptych entitled Races at Auteuil (1881).

De Nittis exhibited twelve paintings in The Exposition Universelle of 1878, and was awarded a gold medal. In that same year he received the Légion d’honneur.

In 1884, at the age of 38, De Nittis died suddenly of a stroke at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

Works by De Nittis are in many public collections, including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, British Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His paintings Return from the Races and The Connoisseurs are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 

Giuseppe De Nittis. Le Parfumier
 
 
 
     
  Giuseppe de Nittis

Impressionism Timeline (1863-1899)
     
 
 
     
  Neoclassicism and Romanticism
Realism, Impressionism and
Post-Impressionism
Symbolism
     
 
 
 

 
 
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