Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Musset, Alfred de from Philip's Encyclopedia

French poet and playwright. He is best remembered for his poems which, after 1834, appeared in the periodical Revue des Deux Mondes. His four lyrics Les Nuits (1835-37) are the most famous of his poems.


Summary Article: Musset, (Louis Charles) Alfred de (1810–1857)
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

French poet and playwright. He achieved success with the volume of poems Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie/Stories of Spain and Italy (1829). His autobiographical poem Confessions d'un enfant du siècle/Confessions of a Child of the Century (1835) recounts his broken relationship with the writer George Sand. Typical of his work are the verse in Les Nuits/Nights (1835–37) and the short plays Comédies et proverbes/Comedies and Proverbs (1840). His play Lorenzaccio (1833), the most intriguing of the Romantic dramas, is a minor masterpiece.

Musset was born in Paris. He abandoned the study of law and medicine to join the circle of Victor Hugo. Following the failure of his play La Nuit vénitienne/A Night in Venice 1830, he produced two series of dramatic comedies and poems, for reading rather than acting, called Un Spectacle dans un fauteuil/Armchair Theatre 1833–34. His poem Rolla was also written 1833, the year that saw the beginning of his affair with George Sand. The four Nuits (Nuit de mai/A Night in May, Nuit de décembre/A Night in December both 1835, Nuit d'aôut/A Night in August 1836, and Nuit d'octobre/A Night in October 1837) are poems which reflect the bitterness and disillusionment which ensued after the rupture of their relationship, and the ending of the romantic dreams of ideal love which they had founded upon it.

He also published Lettre à Lamartine/Letter to Lamartine, the comedy Il ne faut jurer de rien/Never Take an Oath 1836, Un Caprice 1837, some of the Nouvelles, the fragment Le Poète déchu, A trente ans, and the spirited poem Le Rhin allemand. His later years were comparatively unproductive, although Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée, Bettine, and Carmosine were all published.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.