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Georges Ohnet (3 April 1848 in Paris – 5 May 1918) was a French novelist and man of letters.
Ohnet was educated at the Collège Sainte-Barbe and the Lycée Napoléon. After the Franco-Prussian War he became editor of the Pays and the Constitutionnel in succession. In collaboration with the engineer and dramatist Louis Denayrouze (b. 1848) he produced the play Regina Sarpi, and in 1877 Marthe.
Ohnet was an admirer of Georges Sand and bitterly opposed to the realistic modern novel. He began a series of novels, Les Batailles de la vie, of a simple and idealistic character, which, although attacked by the critics as unreal and commonplace, were very popular. The series included Serge Panine (1881) which was crowned by the Academy; Le Maître de forges (1882), La Grande Marnière (1885), Volonté (1888), Dernier Amour (1891). Many of his novels have been dramatized with great success, Le Maître de forges, produced at the Gymnase in 1883, holding the stage for a whole year. His later publications include Le Crépuscule (1902), Le Marchand de Poison (1903), La Conquérante (1905), La dixième muse (1906). In 1902 he was elected president of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.
Ohnet was a great reader of public taste. It was this astute understanding of his readership that helped him devise the passionate style he became famous for. He disdained the romantic melodrama motif, choosing instead to explore complex passion. His literary genius lay in being able to introduce originality into a genre so deeply archetypal as the romantic melodrama. It was this quality that made him one of most widely read writers of his time.
Ohnet's magnum opus was the novel Le maître des forges (The Owner of The Ironworks, 1882). The book became an instant hit, finding wide acceptance not only among French readers but also readers around Europe. Soon after its publication, it was translated into Spain by the Filipino writer Codorníu Julia.
Ohnet enjoyed success with his other works too. The Sarah Countess (1882), Lise Fleuron (1884), The Ladies of Croix-Mort (1886), Will (1888), Dr. Rameu (1889) and At The Bottom of The Abyss (1899), the last of these widely regarded as one of his best works.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ohnet, Georges". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.