Eugène Sue

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Eugène Sue
Portrait of Eugene Sue (1835) by François Gabriel Lepaulle
Born Joseph Marie Eugène Sue
(1804-01-20)January 20, 1804
Died August 3, 1857(1857-08-03) (aged 53)
Annecy-le-Vieux, Kingdom of Sardinia
Resting place Loverchy Cemetery, Annecy-le-Vieux
Occupation Novelist
Language French
Nationality French
Education Lycée Condorcet
Period 1830–1857
Literary movement Romanticism
Notable works Les Mystères de Paris
Notable awards Legion of Honour
"Marie Sue" redirects here. For the term in fan fiction, see Mary Sue.

Joseph Marie Eugène Sue (French pronunciation: ​[ø.ʒɛn sy] (20 January 1804 – 3 August 1857) was a French novelist. He established the genre of the serial novel with his very popular and widely imitated Les Mystères de Paris which was published in a newspaper from 1842 to 1843.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Paris, the son of a distinguished surgeon in Napoleon's army, Jean-Joseph Sue, and is said to have had the Empress Joséphine for godmother. Sue himself acted as surgeon both in the 1823 French campaign in Spain and at the Battle of Navarino (1828). In 1829 his father's death put him in possession of a considerable fortune, and he settled in Paris.

Literary career[edit]

His naval experiences supplied much of the materials of his first novels, Kernock le pirate (1830), Atar-Gull (1831), La Salamandre (2 vols., 1832), La Coucaratcha (4 vols., 1832–1834), and others, which were composed at the height of the Romantic movement of 1830. In the quasi-historical style he wrote Jean Cavalier, ou Les Fanatiques des Cevennes (4 vols., 1840) and Latréaumont (2 vols., 1837). His Mathilde (1841) contains the first known expression of the popular proverb "La vengeance se mange très-bien froide", lately expressed in English as "Revenge is a dish best served cold".[1]

He was strongly affected by the Socialist ideas of the day, and these prompted his most famous works, the "anti-Catholic" novels: Les Mystères de Paris (published in Journal des débats from 19 June 1842 until 15 October 1843) and Le Juif errant (tr. "The Wandering Jew") (10 vols., 1844–1845), which were among the most popular specimens of the serial novel.[2] These works depicted the intrigues of the nobility and the harsh life of the underclass to a wide public. Les Mystères de Paris spawned a class of imitations all over the world, the city mysteries.

He followed up with some singular though not very edifying books: Les Sept pêchés capitaux (16 vols., 1847–1849), which contained stories to illustrate each of the Seven Deadly Sins, Les Mystères du peuple (1849–1856), which was suppressed by the censor in 1857, and several others, all on a very large scale, though the number of volumes gives an exaggerated idea of their length. Some of his books, among them Le Juif Errant and Les Mystères de Paris, were dramatized by himself, usually in collaboration with others. His period of greatest success and popularity coincided with that of Alexandre Dumas, with whom he has been compared.

Political career[edit]

After the revolution of 1848, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly from the Paris-Seine constituency in April 1850. He was exiled from Paris in consequence of his protest against Napoleon III's coup d'état of 2 December 1851. This exile stimulated his literary production. Sue died at Annecy (Savoy) in 1857.



  1. ^ Language Log. University of Pennsylvania
  2. ^ McGreevy, John. Catholicism and American Freedom Norton and Co., New York 2003, pp. 22-23.

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