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Janin's vanity and egotism have always been unbounded. When she had been induced by vast sums of money to visit this country on a professional tour, he scolded her through his columns very much as if she had been a little child bent on eating lobster-salad before going to bed.
Not satisfied with this, he abused the republic in all the diversities of French revilement, declaring us a set of barbarians, wholly incapable of comprehending Corneille or Racine, and unable to distinguish between Agamemnon and an Apache Indian. He never forgave the artiste for coming here, and was ungenerous enough to say, privately, that she deserved her death, which resulted from a cold contracted during her engagement in Charleston, South Carolina. Janin has been a very prolific author, writing on almost every subject, and always with such emphasis of opinion and supreme self-consciousness as to indicate his belief that the globe would cease to revolve but for the expression of his judgment.
His complete works would make more than one hundred good-sized volumes, and his prefaces, introductions, essays, and commentaries to and upon other books would, if collected, be a conspicuous monument to his industry and his egotism.
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A rotund, corpulent critic is he, measuring almost as much diametrically as vertically. Genial in manners, he is often very caustic with his pen, which has the reputation of flowing with gall or honey, just as the writer has been defied or propitiated. He is bitter when he thinks of those too stupid to admire him, and gracious when occupied with the delightful and customary task of taking his own altitude.
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If ever man felt inclined to remove his hat on beholding his reflection in a mirror, that man is Jules Janin. Jules Michelet, the historian, carries his age gracefully, being now seventy-five, and yet so full of literary projects that he could hardly complete them should he live to be twice a centenarian. The son of a banknote printer, he was called at twenty-three to the chair of history at the Rollin College, in Paris, where he lectured also on the ancient languages and on philosophy, holding the position for five years.
The revolution of secured to him the very desirable position of chief of the historical division of the Archives of the kingdom. At the same time Guizot chose him as his assistant at the Sorbonne, and Louis Philippe made him professor of history to his daughter, the Princess Clementine. A little later he published the first volume of his History of France , followed by a series of historical works, resulting in his occupation of a chair of ethics and history in the College of France and in the Academy of the Moral Sciences.
In this position, sustained by the sympathies of the young men of the time, he began his brilliant propagandism in favor of democracy, and especially against the Jesuits, which excited against him among the ultramontanists of the Continent such a determined animosity. In was published the initial volume of his History of the Revolution , and the following year he was nominated by the liberal party to the Chamber of Deputies; but he declined to be a candidate.
Meanwhile he continued to teach at the College of France his democratic doctrines, and this caused the government to close his course of lectures.
The ensuing December he resigned his place in the Archives. Since his second marriage—his present wife is represented as a remarkably charming and lovely woman—he has varied his severe labors by the composition of such lighter works as Love , The Bird , The Insect , Woman , and The Sea. These are very daintily and eloquently written; and two of them, Love and Woman , notwithstanding their excess of sentiment, show such a delicate understanding of the sex, and such a beautiful spirit of chivalry, as to merit all their commendation. Michelet's histories make a long list.
As a historian, he stands, in France, in the front rank; as a man, his position is equally assured.
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An ardent republican, and a devoted patriot, his sympathies comprehend the whole race, and his belief and aspirations are such as are recorded in his Bible of Humanity. Octave Feuillet , just turned of sixty, is best known in this country as the author of The Romance of a Poor Young Man , familiar both as a novel and a drama. He has published not less than fifty or sixty novels, comedies, vaudevilles, and scenes of phantasy, nearly all of which have received a warm welcome in Paris, where he has resided since his early boyhood.
Though the son of a captain-general of prefecture, he owes his advancement to his own exertions, and his success in literature to a high order of intellect and indefatigable industry. Once, when he was complaining that some of his later books had not sold as well as they ought to sell, his wife told him they were too pure to be popular—that the public preferred printed wickedness to any thing else.
The consequence was Camors , which was eagerly purchased, and of which a translation in English has found here a host of readers. Feuillet is a thorough-paced Frenchman, and hates the Germans as vehemently as any Frenchman should. It will be remembered that, just after the close of the war, he was arrested on the frontier by the enemies of his country for some severe strictures he had published upon them, and that he took advantage of his temporary imprisonment to wrap himself, metaphorically, in the tricolor, and to become typographically epigrammatic at the expense of the barbarous foe.
Feuillet has a calm, fine, strong face, was decidedly handsome in his youth, and his manners and address are reposeful and attractive. In he was indebted to the support of Rachel for the place of administrator of the French Comedy, which he managed so well that the theatre, though it had had a very large debt, attained a remarkable degree of prosperity. He caused to be presented many of the best works of Hugo , Dumas , Ponsard, Augier, Musset , Mallefille , Gozlan, and others, and the period of his direction was regarded as a revival of true dramatic art.
Pot-Bouille. Œuvres complètes - Les Rougon-Macquart, X - Index
In many of his books the style and manner of thought of the age of Louis XV. Philosophers and Actresses , one of his best-known books, gives a very correct idea of his literary treatment and epigrammatic diction. The Eleven Forlorn Mistresses , The Journey to my Window , and The Daughters of Eve are exceedingly clever stories, marked by the fantastic quality and pointed ease characteristic of the author. Houssaye, now in his fifty-eighth year, is actively engaged upon several novels, the scenes and characters taken from the great but brief war which so bitterly humiliated the pride of France.
He much resembles, and is often mistaken for, an American, and his uniform amiability and engaging manners have endeared him to a wide circle of widely divergent friends. The most successful, though not the cleverest, of Parisian dramatists just at present is Victorien Sardou, who has the knack of pleasing popular audiences by seizing upon the prevailing idea, and adapting it to the temper and the taste of the multitude. A native of Paris, he studied medicine at first, but soon gave it up to devote himself specially to the investigation of history.
The piece was generally condemned before the end of the first act, causing such bitter mortification and disappointment to the young author that he did not enter the theatre again for two years.
The veteran actress encouraged him to try again, and offered him all possible inducements to produce another play at the theatre bearing her name. His second attempt went far beyond his most ardent expectations, and from that time his reputation has been growing and his purse swelling. There is no end to his stage productions, nearly all of which are composed with a rapidity, not to say precipitation, that precludes exactness of delineation and finish in detail.
Most of them are remarkable for reminiscence, and the author, in consequence, is repeatedly accused of wholesale borrowing. His dramas have a good deal of movement, and the characters certain striking features that insure appreciation from the masses. A number of them have been given here, but with less success than in Paris, where whatever appears under his name is almost certain to draw.
He is reputed to be an extraordinary medium, having long felt a deep interest, and cherished a firm belief, in spiritualism. One of the youngest of the prominent French authors—he is but forty-two—he enjoys a larger income from the theatres than any playwright in Europe. His face denotes Hebrew extraction, and some of his envious rivals are fond of calling him the cunning Israelite who makes dramatic brass watches with stolen works, and adroitly puts them off as gold upon an undiscriminating public.
He is forty-three, an Alsacian, a paragon of good nature, and a delightful companion withal when he is fairly out of harness. His illustrations are so far superior to his paintings that he is seldom thought of as a painter. He has illustrated Rabelais, Sue , Balzac, Montaigne, Dante, Cervantes, Taine, and many others, and bids fair, should he live forty years longer, to illustrate all the famous authors of the past and present. His reputation it world-wide, and he has ten times as many orders as he can fill. He is said to earn from , to , francs per annum, and he might augment his income fiftyfold if he only had as many hands as Briareus.
Of late years his manner has become almost if not quite mannerism, which, while it may add to the individuality of his sketches, renders them unpleasantly monotonous. He looks younger than he is; has a broad face, small eyes, high cheek-bones, wears only a mustache, and smokes like a Spaniard. Of the gifted and world-famous woman, Aurora Dupin Dudevant, known to two hemispheres as George Sand , little need be said, since volumes have been written in praise of her genius and in attempted analysis of her character.
Her father dying when she was a child, she was left to the charge of her grandmother, who never understood her, and whom she always disliked. Her understanding and imagination were abnormally developed. At ten years of age she had the thoughts and feelings of a woman, and at fourteen was a philosopher and a sage.
She spent two years at a fashionable boarding-school in the capital, where, her unsettled and unhappy condition of mind having been taken the usual advantage of, she was duly proselyted into the Roman Catholic Church. She even contemplated entering a convent, and would have done so but for some fortunate circumstance which sent her back to Nohant before she was sixteen. Her grandmother's death was the cause of her going to reside with some friends near Melun. There she became acquainted with a young man, Casimir Dudevant, to whom she was married at eighteen.
He was one of the last men she should have wedded, but he was attentive to her. Her heart was on fire, her poetic brain transfigured him, and the quivering soul of genius fell to the keeping of a conventional and commonplace husband. The result was inevitable. They could not coalesce any more than the ivy and the cabbage, and in a few months they were so spiritually divorced that all the laws of civilization could not have held them together.
Her growing melancholy and feverish unrest made her long for excitement which would enable her to forget herself. She was starving for Paris, where she hoped to support herself, inasmuch as her liege had already lost most of her fortune in injudicious speculations. He consented to her spending half the time in the capital, and she flew thither like a liberated bird. There, as has been said, she wrote her first novel in conjunction with Jules Sandeau. Then, unaided, she produced Indiana.