Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870) was an author by hobby, not necessity, being the son of two talented and highly successful artists. He was also a lawyer, a public official, a senator, a painter, an authority on Russian literature and a member of the French Academy. As a public official, Mérimée travelled through France and Europe, from which he drew inspiration for his stories and novels. Quite indifferent about his literary popularity, Mérimée claimed he wrote his 1845 novella, "Carmen", because he was in need of a new pair of pants. The novella introduced the character of Carmen, one of the most unforgettable figures in literature and the basis of Bizet's 1875 opera. She is a beautiful, clever young gypsy, who embodies the not the French femme fatale, as Bizet portrays her, but the indifferent, independent spirit of the Roma. Carmen's allure draws the handsome young cavalryman, Don Jose, into a torturous love affair which can only end in tragedy.
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