To install click the Add extension button. That's it.

The source code for the WIKI 2 extension is being checked by specialists of the Mozilla Foundation, Google, and Apple. You could also do it yourself at any point in time.

Kelly Slayton
Congratulations on this excellent venture… what a great idea!
Alexander Grigorievskiy
I use WIKI 2 every day and almost forgot how the original Wikipedia looks like.
Live Statistics
English Articles
Improved in 24 Hours
Added in 24 Hours
Show all languages
What we do. Every page goes through several hundred of perfecting techniques; in live mode. Quite the same Wikipedia. Just better.

Octave Mirbeau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau.jpg
Born(1848-02-16)16 February 1848
Trévières, France
Died16 February 1917(1917-02-16) (aged 69)
Paris, France
OccupationNovelist, playwright, journalist, pamphleteer
GenreNovel, comedy, chronicles, art critic
Literary movementImpressionism, expressionism, decadent, avant-garde
Notable worksThe Torture Garden (1899)

Octave Mirbeau (16 February 1848 – 16 February 1917) was a French novelist, art critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, journalist, and playwright, who achieved celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde with highly transgressive novels that explored violence, abuse and psychological detachment. His work has been translated into thirty languages.


Aesthetic and political struggles

Octave Mirbeau.
Octave Mirbeau.

The grandson of Norman notaries and the son of a doctor, Mirbeau spent his childhood in a village in Normandy, Rémalard, pursuing secondary studies at a Jesuit college in Vannes, which expelled him at the age of fifteen.[1] Two years after the traumatic experience of the 1870 war, he was tempted by a call from the Bonapartist leader Dugué de la Fauconnerie, who hired him as private secretary and introduced him to L'Ordre de Paris.

After his debut in journalism in the service of the Bonapartists,[2] and his debut in literature when he worked as a ghostwriter,[3] 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 (cf. La Grève des électeurs)[4] and fervent supporter of Alfred Dreyfus,[5] 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.[6]

As an art critic, he campaigned on behalf of the “great gods nearest to his heart”: he sang the praises of Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Félicien Rops [7] Auguste Renoir, Félix Vallotton, and Pierre Bonnard, and was an early advocate of Vincent van Gogh, Camille Claudel, Aristide Maillol, and Maurice Utrillo (cf. his Combats esthétiques, 1993).

As a literary critic and early member of Académie Goncourt, he 'discovered' Maurice Maeterlinck and Marguerite Audoux and admired Remy de Gourmont, Marcel Schwob, Léon Bloy, Georges Rodenbach, Alfred Jarry, Charles-Louis Philippe, Émile Guillaumin [fr], Valery Larbaud and Léon Werth (cf. his Combats littéraires, 2006).

Mirbeau's novels

Autobiographical novels

Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, Le Calvaire (1901)
Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, Le Calvaire (1901)

Mirbeau ghostwrote ten novels,[8] including three for the Swiss writer Dora Melegari.[9] He made his own 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 Vinmer (1858-1951), renamed Juliette Roux in the novel.[10]

In 1888, Mirbeau published L'Abbé Jules (Abbé Jules), the first pre-Freudian novel written under the influence of Dostoyevsky to appear in French literature;[11] the text featured two main characters: l'abbé Jules and Father Pamphile. In Sébastien Roch (1890) (English translation: Sébastien Roch, 2000), Mirbeau purged the traumatic effects of his experience as a student at a Jesuits school in Vannes. In the novel, the 13-year-old Sébastien is sexually abused by a priest at the school and the abuse destroys his life.[12]

Crisis of the novel

Mirbeau then underwent a grave existential and literary crisis, yet during this time, he still published in serial form a pre-existentialist novel about the artist's fate, Dans le ciel (In the Sky), introducing the figure of a painter (Lucien), directly modeled on Van Gogh. In the aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair — which exacerbated Mirbeau's pessimism[13] — he published two novels judged to be scandalous by self-styled paragons of virtue: Le Jardin des supplices (Torture Garden (1899) and Le Journal d'une femme de chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid) (1900), then Les Vingt et un Jours d'un neurasthénique (The twenty one days of a neurasthenic person) (1901). In the process of writing these works, Mirbeau unsettled traditional novelistic conventions, exercising collage techniques,[14] transgressing codes of verisimilitude and fictional credibility, and defying the hypocritical rules of propriety.

Death of the novel

In his last two novels, La 628-E8 (1907) – including La Mort de Balzac – and Dingo (1913), he strayed ever further from realism, giving free rein to clinical fantasy elements and casting his cat and his own dog as heroes. These last Mirbeau stories show a complete break with the conventions of realist fiction, also signifying a breakdown of reality.[15]

Mirbeau's theatre

In the theatre, Mirbeau made his first steps with a proletarian drama and modern tragedy, Les Mauvais bergers (The Bad Shepherds, 1897). Then he experienced worldwide acclaim with Les affaires sont les affaires (Business is business, 1903) — his classical comedy of manners and characters in the tradition of Molière. Here Mirbeau featured the character of Isidore Lechat, predecessor of the modern master of business intrigue, a product of the new world, 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[16] — Mirbeau saw his play Le Foyer (Home) performed by the Comédie-Française. In this work, he broached a new taboo subject, the economic and sexual exploitation of adolescents in a home that pretended to be a charitable one.

Le Foyer
Le Foyer

He also wrote six one act plays, published under the title of Farces et moralités (1904), among them being L'Épidémie (Epidemics, 1898). Here, Mirbeau can be seen as anticipating the theatre of Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Aymé, Harold Pinter, and Eugène Ionesco.[17] He calls language itself into question, demystifying law, ridiculing the discourse of politicians, and making fun of the language of love (Les Amants, The Lovers, 1901).

Posthumous fame

Mirbeau has never been forgotten, and there has been no interruption in the publication of his works. Yet his immense literary production has largely been known through only three works, and he was considered as literally and politically incorrect.

But, more recently, Mirbeau has been rediscovered and presented in a new light. A fuller appreciation of the role he played in the political, literary, and artistic world of la Belle Époque is emerging.[18]

Mirbeau lies buried in the Passy Cemetery, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.


  1. ^ Cf. « Rémalard » and « Vannes », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau.
  2. ^ Cf. « Bonapartisme », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau.
  3. ^ Cf. « Négritude », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau; and Pierre Michel, « Quelques réflexions sur la “négritude” », in Cahiers Octave Mirbeau, n° 12, 2005, p. 4-34.
  4. ^ English translation: The Voters strike, The Anarchist Library, 2012.
  5. ^ Cf. « Affaire Dreyfus », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau.
  6. ^ Pierre Michel, Lucidité désespoir et écriture, Presses de l'Université d’Angers, 2001.
  7. ^ Patrick Bade (2003) Félicien Rops. Parkstone Press Ltd, New York, 95 pp. ISBN 1859958907
  8. ^ For instance, L'Écuyère, La Belle Madame Le Vassart and Dans la vieille rue.
  9. ^ Amanda Gagel (26 October 2016). Selected Letters of Vernon Lee, 1856 - 1935: Volume I, 1865-1884. Taylor & Francis. p. 548. ISBN 978-1-134-97673-7.
  10. ^ Cf. Jean-Michel Guignon, « Aux sources du Calvaire – Qui était Judith/Juliette ? », Cahiers Octave Mirbeau, n° 20, 2013, p. 145-152.
  11. ^ Pierre Michel, « L'Abbé Jules : de Zola à Dostoïevski », Éditions du Boucher, 2003, p. 3-18.
  12. ^ Pierre Michel, « Sébastien Roch, ou le meurtre d'une âme d'enfant », Éditions du Boucher, 2003, p. 3-24.
  13. ^ « Pessimisme », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau.
  14. ^ Cf. « Collage », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau.
  15. ^ Cf. « Réalisme », in Dictionnaire Octave Mirbeau; and Pierre Michel, Octave Mirbeau et le roman, Société Octave Mirbeau, 2005.
  16. ^ Pierre Michel, « La Bataille du Foyer », Revue d'histoire du théâtre, 1991, n° 3, p. 195-230.
  17. ^ Pierre Michel, « Octave Mirbeau et Eugène  Ionesco », Cahiers Octave Mirbeau, n° 13, 2006, p. 163-174.
  18. ^ Cf. Société Octave Mirbeau.


Les Grimaces (1883)
Les Grimaces (1883)
Sébastien Roch, illustrated by Henri-Gabriel Ibels, 1906
Sébastien Roch, illustrated by Henri-Gabriel Ibels, 1906



Short stories

Art chronicles

  • Combats esthétiques, 2 volumes (1893).
  • Premières chroniques esthétiques (1895).
  • Combats littéraires (1906).


  • La 628-E8 (1907) (Sketches of a journey, London, 1989).

Political and social chronicles


  • Lettres à Alfred Bansard des Bois (1989)
  • Correspondance avec Rodin (1988), avec Monet (1990), avec Pissarro (1990), avec Jean Grave (1994), avec Jules Huret (2009).
  • Correspondance générale, 3 volumes already published (2003-2005-2009).


External links

This page was last edited on 11 June 2020, at 05:02
Basis of this page is in Wikipedia. Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License. Non-text media are available under their specified licenses. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. WIKI 2 is an independent company and has no affiliation with Wikimedia Foundation.