TO FRENCH EDITION Daudet has had the rare luck of pleasing partisans of almost every school; the realists have joyed in his work and so have the romanticists; his writings have found favor in the eyes of the frank impressionists and also at the hands of the severer custodians of academic standards. Mr. Henry James has declared that Daudet is "at the head of his profession" and has called him "an admirable genius." Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson thought Daudet "incomparably" the best of the present French novelists and asserted that "Kings in Exile" comes "very near to being a masterpiece." M. Jules Lemaitre tells us that Daudet "trails all hearts after him,—because he has charm, as indefinable in a work of art as in a woman’s face." M. Ferdinand Brunetière, who has scant relish for latter-day methods in literature, admits ungrudgingly that "there are certain corners of the great city and certain aspects of Parisian manners, there are some physiognomies that perhaps no one has been able to render so well as Daudet, with that infinitely subtle and patient art which succeeds in giving even to inanimate things the appearance of life." The documents are abundant for an analysis of Daudet such as Sainte-Beuve would have undertaken with avidity; they are more abundant indeed than for any other contemporary French man of letters even in these days of unhesitating self-revelation; and they are also of an absolutely impregnable authenticity. M. Ernest Daudet has written a whole volume to tell us all about his brother’s boyhood and youth and early manhood and first steps in literature. M. Léon Daudet has written another solid tome to tell us all about his father’s literary principles and family life and later years and death. Daudet himself put forth a pair of pleasant books of personal gossip about himself, narrating his relations with his fellow authors and recording the circumstances under which he came to compose each of his earlier stories. Montaigne—whose "Essays" was Daudet’s bedside book and who may be accepted not unfairly as an authority upon egotism—assures us that "there is no description so difficult, nor doubtless of so great utility, as that of one’s self." And Daudet’s own interest in himself is not unlike Montaigne’s,—it is open, innocent and illuminating
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Published July 29, 2009
by Library of Alexandria.
Literature & Fiction, History, Education & Reference, Religion & Spirituality, Travel, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs.