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Just to point out: according to the Chambers Biograhical dictionary: he was born 1750 NOT 1748 as this article suggests. Thank you.
Octave Mirbeau (born, February 16 , in Trévières, died February 16, in Paris) was a French journalist, art critic, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright who enjoyed celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde, a rare combination.
After his debut in journalism in the service of the Bonapartists, and his debut in literature when he worked as a ghostwriter, Mirbeau began to publish under his own name. Thereafter, he wrote in order to express his own ethical principles and aesthetic values. A supporter of the anarchist cause and fervent supporter of Dreyfus, Mirbeau embodied the intellectual who involved himself in civic issues. Independent of all parties, Mirbeau believed that one’s primary duty was to remain lucid, as he forces the willfully blind among us to contemplate what we ordinarily prefer not to consider. As an art critic, Mirbeau campaigned on behalf of the “great gods nearest to his heart”: he sang the praises of Rodin, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Félix Vallotton, and Pierre Bonnard, and was the discoverer of Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Claudel, Aristide Maillol, and Maurice Utrillo.
After authoring ten ghostwritten novels (of which ten are available on the Internet, on the Boucher editions website), he made his own noisy literary debut with Le Calvaire (Calvary 1886), in which writing allowed him to overcome the traumatic effects of his devastating liaison with the ill-reputed Judith, renamed Juliette in the novel. In 1888, Mirbeau published L’Abbé Jules, the first pre-Freudian novel written under the influence of Dostoievsky to appear in French literature, a text featuring two fascinating characters: l’abbé Jules and Father Pamphile. In Sébastien Roch (1890), Mirbeau purged the traumatic effects of his experience as a student during his sojourn among the Jesuits of Vannes. The violence done to him there involved the transgression of a taboo that was to last another century, namely the rape by priests of adolescents. Mirbeau then underwent a grave existential and literary crisis, yet during this time, he still published in serial form an extraordiary pre-existentialist novel about the artist’s tragic fate, Dans le ciel (In the Sky) in which he introduced the figure of a painter directly modeled on Van Gogh. In the aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair, which exacerbated Mirbeau’s pessimism, he published two novels judged to be scandalous by religious hypocrites and self-styled paragons of virtue, texts that enjoyed an enormous, world-wide success (they have been translated into thirty languages and appear frequently in new editions): Le Jardin des supplices (Torture Garden 1899) and Le Journal d’une femme de chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid 1900). In these works, Mirbeau already unsettled traditional novelistic conventions, practising the technique of collage, transgressing the code of verisimilitude and fictional credibility, defying the hypocritical rules of propriety. Mirbeau administers the final blow to the purportedly “realistic” novel in his last two narrative works, La 628-E8 (1907) and Dingo (1913), novels in which his fantasy is given free rein and whose heroes are his automobile and his own dog.
In the theater, Mirbeau experienced world-wide triumph with his great classical comedy of manners and character in the tradition of Molière: Les Affaires sont les affaires (Business is business 1903). Here Mirbeau features the character of Isidore Lechat, predecessor of the modern master of business intrigue, a product of the new world, a forerunner of French businessman Bernard Tapie and Italian Berlusconi, a figure who makes money from everything and spreads his tentacles out over the world. In 1908, at the end of a long legal and media battle, Mirbeau saw his scandalous play Le Foyer performed by the Comédie-Française. In this work, he broaches a new taboo subject, the economic and sexual exploitation of adolescents in a home that pretended to be a chairitable one. Published under the title of Farces et moralités (1904) were six small, one-act plays that were themselves extremely innovative. Here Mirbeau anticipates the theater of Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Aymé, Harold Pinter, and Eugène Ionesco. Here Mirbeau calls language itself into question, demystifying law, ridiculing the discourse of politicians, and making fun of the language of love. Mirbeau has never been forgotten, and there has been no interruption in the publication of his works. Yet he has often been misunderstood, his immense literary production has been known through only three works, and he has passed through a long period in which he was judged incorrectly by authors of manuals of literary history. Fortunately, in the last fifteen years Mirbeau has been rediscovered and presented in a new light. Now there is a better appreciation of the important role he played in the political, literary, and artistic world of la Belle Epoque and a better sense of Mirbeau’s important contribution to the evolution of literary genres.
Novels : · Le Calvaire (1886) · L'Abbé Jules (1888) · Sébastien Roch (1890) · Dans le ciel (1892-1893) · Le Jardin des supplices (1899) · le Journal d'une femme de chambre (1900) · Les Vingt et un jours d'un neurasthénique (1901) · La 628-E8 (1907). · Dingo (1913) · Œuvre romanesque, 3 volumes, Buchet/Chastel – Société Octave Mirbeau, 2000-2001. Website of Éditions du Boucher, 2003-2004. Théâtre · Les Mauvais bergers (1897) · Les Affaires sont les affaires (1903). · Farces et moralités (1904) · Foyer (1908) Shorts stories · Dans l'Antichambre (Histoire d'une Minute) (1905). · Contes cruels, 2 volumes (1990 et 2000). Recueil de 150 contes. Art chronicles · Combats esthétiques, 2 volumes (1993) Political chronicles · Combats politiques (1990) · L'Affaire Dreyfus (1991) · L'Amour de la feme vénale (1994) Correspondance · Lettres à Alfred Bansard des Bois (1989) · Correspondance avec Rodin (1988), avec Monet (1990), avec Pissarro (1990), avec Jean Grave (1994). · Correspondance générale, 2 volumes already published (2003-2005) Links · Website of Société Octave Mirbeau : http://membres.lycos.fr/octavemirbeau/ et http://www.mirbeau.org/ . · Website of University Library, Angers : http://bu.univ-angers.fr/index.php?S_file=archives/fiche.php&ref_archive=5 . · Website of Éditions du Boucher : http://www.leboucher.com/ . · Pierre Michel’s website : http://home.tele2.fr/michelmirbeau/ .