Alfred de Musset

Definition

Theater

  • (1810 - 57) French playwright, poet, and novelist, whowas a leading figure of the Romantic movement in France. His bittersweetcomedies and dramas are noted for their poetic language.

    As a young man Musset painted for a while before turning towriting. He became a fashionable man-about-town, leading a dissipatedsocial life that eventually led to his early death. Several of hisworks were rediscovered in Russia 20 years later by a French actress,who returned them to Paris.

    His first play, the one-act La Nuit vénitienne,was a failure when presented at the Théâtre Nationalde l'Odéon in 1830, and he resolved thereafter to write onlycloset dramas. In 1833 Musset and the writer George Sandbegan an intense but short-lived affair. During their trip to Italyin 1834 Musset became ill and Sand fell in love with the doctor shesummoned. By this time he had already created (with Sand's help) hisbest work, the historical drama Lorenzaccio. It later providedSarah Bernhardt with one of her most celebrated travesti roles.

    In the 1840s Musset enjoyed great success with a series ofComédies et proverbes, light comedies and short playsillustrating proverbs. Although they were not intended for the stage,in 1847 one of them, Un Caprice, was given at the Comédie-Françaiseto such acclaim that the following year saw the staging of three moreworks, Le Chandelier, Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverteou fermée, and Il ne faut jurer de rien.

    In 1851 he successfully blended classical and romantic stylesin his play Caprices de Marianne. There was also a posthumousproduction of the tragicomedy On ne badine pas avec l'amour.In 1893 this became the first play to be produced by Britain's E.Gordon Craig (see Craig family), who directed, designedand painted scenery, and created 14th-century costumes.

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