Alphonse Daudet

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Alphonse Daudet (13 May 1840 – 16 December 1897) was a French novelist. He was the father of Léon Daudet and Lucien Daudet.

Contents

Early life

Alphonse Daudet was born in Nîmes, France. His family, on both sides, belonged to the bourgeoisie. The father, Vincent Daudet, was a silk manufacturer — a man dogged through life by misfortune and failure. Alphonse, amid much truancy, had a depressing boyhood. In 1856 he left Lyon, where his schooldays had been mainly spent, and began life as a schoolteacher at Alès, Gard, in the south of France. The position proved to be intolerable. As Dickens[clarification needed] declared that all through his prosperous career he was haunted in dreams by the miseries of his apprenticeship to the blacking business,[citation needed] so Daudet says that for months after leaving Alès he would wake with horror, thinking he was still among his unruly pupils.

On 1 November 1857, he abandoned teaching and took refuge with his brother Ernest Daudet, only some three years his senior, who was trying, "and thereto soberly," to make a living as a journalist in Paris. Alphonse took to writing, and his poems were collected into a small volume, Les Amoureuses (1858), which met with a fair reception. He obtained employment on Le Figaro, then under Cartier de Villemessant's energetic editorship, wrote two or three plays, and began to be recognized, among those interested in literature, as possessing individuality and promise. Morny, Napoleon III's all-powerful minister, appointed him to be one of his secretaries — a post which he held till Morny's death in 1865 — and showed Daudet no small kindness. Daudet had put his foot on the road to fortune.

Literary career

In 1866, Daudet's Lettres de mon moulin, written in Clamart, near Paris, and alluding to a windmill in Fontvieille, Provence, won the attention of many readers. The first of his longer books, Le petit chose (1868), did not, however, produce popular sensation. It is, in the main, the story of his own earlier years told with much grace and pathos. The year 1872 brought the famous Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon, and the three-act play L'Arlésienne. But Fromont jeune et Risler aîné (1874) at once took the world by storm. It struck a note, not new certainly in English literature, but comparatively new in French. His creativeness resulted in characters that were real and also typical.

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