Alfred de Musset

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Alfred de Musset in 1854 Alfred de Musset, signature.jpg

Alfred de Musset (born December 11, 1810 in Paris , † May 2, 1857 there ) was a French writer . He is considered one of the greats among the French romantics .

Life and work

Musset grew up in Paris as the well-protected son of aristocratic parents and completed his school days with splendor in the traditional high school Lycée Henri IV . Afterwards he listlessly began to study law and then medicine, but was mainly active as a young bon vivant. In addition, he was a precocious poet who from 1828 onwards was admired in the circle around Victor Hugo , the "Cénacle". As early as 1830 the Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (Eng. "Spanish and Italian Stories") appeared, a collection of extremely perfectly formed poems in the romantic style, full of exoticism and exuberant feelings.

In 1832, after the death of his father in the great typhus epidemic of that year, he decided (probably thanks to his inheritance) to live as a writer.

In 1833 he met the novelist George Sand , who was six years his senior , and began a romantic, passionate love affair with her. However, this soon ended on a joint trip to Italy (winter 1833/34) when he fell ill in Venice and she cheated on him with the doctor. The deep crisis that this triggered in Musset inspired him to write poems full of Weltschmerz (published collectively as Nuits , German "Nights", 1835 and 1837), but also to the autobiographical novel Confession d'un enfant du siècle (Ger. "Confession of a young contemporary", 1836), whose protagonist Octave is one of those typically romantic, d. H. disaffected, problematic hero for themselves and those around them.

As early as 1830, Musset had also been writing plays, which, after the failure of the first performed play ( La Nuit vénétienne , Eng . "Venetian Night", 1830), was only intended for reading and published in anthologies. Thus in 1832 and 1834 a volume each appeared Spectacles dans un fauteuil (Eng. “Drama in a chair”) and in 1840 a volume Comédies et Proverbes (Eng. “Comedies and Proverbs”).

The best-known pieces that are still occasionally performed today are Les caprices de Marianne (Eng. "Mariannes Launen", 1833), Fantasio (1834) and On ne badine pas avec l'amour (Eng. "Love is not fun", 1834), as well as Lorenzaccio (1833/34). The former are about disappointed love - a subject that kept the obviously slightly inflamed but narcissistic Musset occupied. Lorenzaccio , the story of a tyrannicide that ultimately only frustrated the perpetrator, reflects the political disappointment of Musset and many intellectuals of his generation who initially had high hopes for the July Revolution of 1830 and felt cheated when the regime of the new "bourgeois king" Louis-Philippe I was quickly taken over by the big bourgeoisie and from 1832 onwards acted increasingly authoritarian and repressive.

In addition to his numerous plays and poetry, Musset also wrote a series of short stories in the 1830s, which were very fruitful for him. In 1838 he received a modest post as a librarian in the Ministry of the Interior, which did not burden him, but ensured him a basic income. From 1845, some of his chess problems were published.

1840 was marked by a serious illness and a deep slump. After that he suffered from frequent depression, wrote very little and took refuge in love affairs and alcohol consumption, which made his condition even worse. After all, he received the cross of the Légion d'honneur in 1845 and in 1847 saw the very successful performance of one of his pieces, Un Caprice (Eng. "A mood / crazy idea", 1837). In 1852, after unsuccessful attempts in 1848 and 1850, he was elected to the Académie française , although it was certainly helpful that he had joined the new regime of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte .

On May 2, 1857, Alfred de Musset died in his sleep in Paris of cardiac insufficiency caused by longstanding alcoholism and aortic valve insufficiency. Before his death, his brother observed pulse-synchronized nods of the head, a symptom that is still known today as the Musset sign . He was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris .


Musset's enduring achievement is today his dramatic work, which, after its failure right at the beginning, he no longer wrote with a view to the currently prevailing romantic theater doctrine, but according to his own, moderately classicist ideas. Because these ultimately turned out to be more forward-looking than z. B. that of his initially more successful competitor Victor Hugo, whose pieces have hardly been performed for a long time.

Musset was hardly known in German-speaking countries.

His work La Coupe et les lèvres (1831) was the literary model for " Edgar ", Giacomo Puccini's second opera.


Musset's grave ( Père Lachaise )
  • 1824 A ma mère
  • 1826 A Mademoiselle Zoé la Douairière
  • 1828 Un rêve , L'Anglais mangeur d'opium
  • 1829 First poems
  • 1830 Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie , La Quittance du diable
  • 1831 La Coupe et les lèvres , Namouna
  • 1832 Spectacles dans un fauteuil , A quoi rêvent les jeunes filles
  • 1834 Lorenzaccio , Les Caprices de Marianne , Rolla , André del Sarto
  • 1834 Fantasio , On ne badine pas avec l'amour , Une nuit vénitienne , Perdican , Camille et Perdican
  • 1835 La Quenouille de Barberine , La Nuit de mai , La Nuit de décembre , Le Chandelier
  • 1836 Il ne faut jurer de rien , Lettre à M. de Lamartine , Faire sans dire , La nuit d'août , La Confession d'un enfant du siècle
  • 1837 Un Caprice , La Nuit d'octobre , À la Malibran , Emmeline , Les deux maîtresses , Lettres à Dupuis et Cotonet
  • 1838 Le Fils du Titien , Frédéric et Bernerette , L'Espoir en Dieu , Dupont et Durand , Margot
  • 1839 Croisilles
  • 1840 Les deux maîtresses , Tristesse , Une soirée perdue
  • 1841 Souvenir , Nouvelles (contains Emmeline , Le Fils du Titien , Croisilles and Margot )
  • 1842 Le Voyage où il vous plaira , Sur la paresse , Histoire d'un merle blanc , Après une lecture (with illustrations by Tony Johannot , published in 1843 as a serial novel “Ein Reisemärchen” translated by Oskar Ludwig Bernhard Wolff in the Illustrated Newspaper and in 1846 as Book edition with the title "The Journey into the Blue" published by Carl B. Lorck)
  • 1844 Pierre et Camille , Le Secret de Javotte , Les Frères Van Bruck
  • 1845 Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée , Mademoiselle Mimi Pinson
  • 1848 Nouvelles (contains Pierre et Camille and Le Secret de Javotte )
  • 1849 Louison , L'Habit vert , On ne saurait penser à tout
  • 1850 Poésies nouvelles , Carmosine
  • 1851 Bettine , Faustine
  • 1852 Publication of the volumes of poetry Premières Poésies (1829–1835) and Poésies Nouvelles (1836–1852)
  • 1853 La mouche
  • 1854 Contes


  • Werner Bahner : Alfred de Mussets work. A denial of the bourgeois way of life of his time. Verlag Sprach und Literatur, Halle an der Saale 1960, ( Paths to literature - literature and society ).
  • Angelika Fabig: Art and Artists in the Work of Alfred de Musset. Winter, Heidelberg, 1976, ISBN 3-533-02509-8 , ( Studia Romanica 28), (also: Frankfurt (Main), Univ., Diss., 1975).
  • Bodo Guthmüller: Musset's reception in the Second Empire. Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1973, ISBN 3-7610-0217-3 , ( Ars poetica Studien 17), (also: Marburg, Univ., Habil.-Schr.).
  • Karin Kramer: Alfred de Musset's position on romance. Kümmerle, Göppingen 1973, ISBN 3-87452-198-2 , ( Göppinger academic contributions 74), (At the same time: Köln, Univ., Diss., 1973).
  • Jutta Lietz: Studies on Alfred de Musset's novellas “Mimi Pinson”, “Frédéric et Bernerette”, “Margot”, “La Mouche”, “Histoire d'un merle blanc” . Romance Studies Seminar at the University of Hamburg, Hamburg 1971, ( Hamburg Romance Studies Dissertations 8, ISSN  0440-1727 ), (At the same time: Hamburg, Univ., Dissertation 1971).
  • Henning Mehnert: Alfred de Mussets "Lorenzaccio" and the psychological motivation of the dandy poet In: Romanistisches Jahrbuch 26, 1975, ISSN  0080-3898 , pp. 122-136.
  • Alfred Noe: Stylometry and Interpretation. Stylistic features of the language of Alfred de Musset with special emphasis on prose. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1992, ISBN 3-631-44305-6 , ( Viennese contributions to comparative literature and Romance studies 1), (At the same time: Vienna, Univ., Habil.-Schr., 1988).


Web links

Commons : Alfred de Musset  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Alfred de Musset  - Sources and full texts (French)