One of the finest of French novelist, dramatist and short story writer, Alphonse Daudet is best known for the role he played in the transition of 19th century theater. The writer, who is fondly known as the ‘French Dickens’ mostly wrote sentimental tales of provincial life in southern France. Resuming his career as a school teacher, he abandoned the profession soon to become a journalist and a teacher. After being employed in Le Figaro, he never had to look back. The journal gave a big break to his literary career and his collection of poems received a fair reception from the readers. What followed was an endless flow of his works and most of them became successful. The features which made him stand out among his contemporaries are his real and typical characterization and the impressionist style which he developed himself. It was mostly his experiences in Milieu and the people he knew and those who played an important role in his life were characterized in his works. A close associate of Edmond de Goncourt, Gustav Flaubert and Emile Zola, Daudet was also part of Naturalist school of prose. The fact that, he became a patron to the younger writers is a testimony to his brilliance.
Childhood & Early Life
Alphonse Daudet was born on 13 May 1840 in Nimes in France to Vincent Daudet, a silk manufacturer.
He completed major part of his education from Lyon to Ales, Gard in southern France where he also worked as a school teacher. However, he did not enjoy the profession and the stress haunted him for months.
In 1857, he abandoned teaching and started staying with his elder brother, Earnest Daudet who had been trying to earn a living as a journalist in Paris.
Alphonse took to writing profession and a collection of his poems were released titled, ‘Les Amoureuses’ (1858) and received a fair reception.
Though he was enlisted in the army, he fled from Paris during the terrors of commune of 1871.
Daudet was employed in Le Figaro where he authored plays which led to him to be recognized.
Daudet was also made the secretary by the all-powerful minister, Morny Napoleon, the post which he continued held till Morny’s death in 1865.
In 1866, Daudet’s works, ‘Lettres de mon moulin’ (Letters from My Windmill) attracted the attention of many people, though another of his work, Le petit chose (1868) did not achieve much of a response.
The year 1872 witnessed some of his works namely ‘Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon’ and the three-act play L'Arlésienne. ‘Aventures prodigieuses de Tartarin de Tarascon’ did not receive a positive response though, it is now considered as a caricature of innocence and immodesty. The play too was a failure. His work, ‘Fromont jeune et Risler aîné’ which was published in 1874 went viral all over the world. The work carved a new niche in French literature and Daudet’s career started to flourish. Soon an endless flow of works such as Le Nabab (1877), Les Rois en exil (1879), Numa Roumestan (1881), Sapho (1884), L'Immortel (1888), Trente ans de Paris (1887) and Souvenirs d'un homme de lettres (1888).
Alphonse Daudet also wrote for children which includes, ‘La Belle Nivernaise’. Towards the later phases of his career, he was suffering from spinal cord ailment though the disease did not restrain him from writing.
Daudet continued to write all kinds of books to entertain the Parisian literary and musical society. He also became a patron to younger writers including Marcel Proust.
In 1895, Daudet also visited cities like London and Venice.
Le Petit Chose, 1868
Lettres de Mon Moulin, 1869
Tartarin de Tarascon, 1872
Contes du Lundi, 1873
Les Femmes de Artistes, 1874
Robert Helmont, 1874
Fromont jeune et Risler aîné, 1874
Le Nabab, 1877
Les Rois en Exil, 1879
Numa Roumestan, 1880
Tartarin sur les Alpes, 1885
Le Belle Nivernaise, 1886
Rose and Ninette, 1892
La Doulou, 1930
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1867, Daudet married Julia Allard who was credited for writing novels like ‘Impressions de nature et d'art’ (1879) and ‘L'Enfance d'une Parisienne’ (1883). They had three children, Leon, Lucien and Edmee.
Towards the later phases of his life, Daudet suffered from insomnia and an ailment of spinal cord caused by his venereal disease.
Daudet passed away at Paris on 17 December, 1897.
There are several schools and colleges in Paris named after this great author.
1840: Alphonse Daudet was born on 13 May in Nimes in France to Vincent Daudet, a silk manufacturer.
1857: Daudet abandoned his teaching profession and started living with his brother, Earnest Daudet in Paris.
1866: His most popular work, ‘Lettres de mon moulin’ became a great success.
1871: He fled from Paris during the terrors of commune.
1867: Married Julia Allard, another author by profession.
1874: Dudet’s work, ‘Fromont jeune et Risler aîné’ earned huge success.
1897: Daudet passed away in Paris on December 17, 1897.