Vigny, Alfred Victor, comte de

Vigny, Alfred Victor, comte de älfrĕdˈ vĕktôrˈ kôNt də vēnyēˈ [key], 1797–1863, French poet, novelist, and dramatist. One of the foremost romantics, Vigny expressed a philosophy of stoical pessimism, stressing the lonely struggle of the individual in a hostile universe. Though physically weak, he was sent to military school and became an officer in 1814, resigning in 1827. His best-known poems are found in Poèmes antiques et modernes (1826), containing “Éloa” and his famous “Moïse,” and in Destinées (1864). His prose works include the novels Cinq-Mars (1826, tr. The Spider and the Fly, 1925), Stello (1832), Servitude et grandeur militaires (1835, tr. The Military Necessity, 1953), and Chatterton (1835, tr. 1908), a play. A selection of his own notes comprises Journal d'un poète (1867). Unlike other romantics of his period, he did not emphasize personal emotion; instead he presented his ideas through general symbols with dramatic force. His reputation, temporarily dimmed by that of Hugo and Lamartine, was revived by the time of Baudelaire.

See studies by J. Doolittle (1967) and A. Whitridge (1933, repr. 1971).

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