Musset, Alfred de

Musset, Alfred de (Louis Charles Alfred de Musset) älfrĕdˈ də müsāˈ [key], 1810–57, French romantic poet, dramatist, and fiction writer. His first collection of poems, Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1829), exhibited a strong Byronic influence. Four years later he went to Italy with George Sand, but his infatuation with her resulted in disillusionment. Most of his poems appeared first in Revue des deux mondes; they included such famous pieces as the gloomy “Rolla” (1833) and the exquisite love lyrics “La Nuit de mai,” “La Nuit d'août,” “La Nuit d'octobre,” and “La Nuit de décembre” (1835–36). His poetry combined classic clarity with the passionate subjectivity of the romantics. Among his plays are Fantasio (1834) and a series of comedies based on proverbs, including Il ne faut jurer de rien (1834) and On ne badine pas avec l'amour (1836). He also wrote some brilliant nouvelles, but from 1840 he passed rapidly into decline. The autobiographical novel Confession d'un enfant du siècle (1836), gives an account of his affair with George Sand and reflects the disillusioned mood of many of his contemporaries. His correspondence with George Sand appeared in 1904, and his work was translated in The Complete Writings of Alfred de Musset (10 vol., 1905; rev. ed. 1907).

See biography by his brother, Paul de Musset (tr. 1877).

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