Thursday, 28 October 2010
Alphonse Daudet The Nabob
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 declared that all through his prosperous career he was haunted in dreams by the miseries of his apprenticeship to the blacking business, 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. Read more on Wikipedia
The above is the same edition which Malc owned. Malc's copy has the inscription: "To my darling - Margie July 28th 1953"
Jenkins entered the bed-chamber, a banal place like all furnished apartments, and moved towards the fire on which there were set to heat curling-tongs of all sizes, while in the contiguous laboratory, separated from the room by a curtain of Algerian tapestry, the Marquis de Monpavon gave himself up to the manipulations of his valet. Odours of patchouli, of cold-cream, of hartshorn, and of singed hair escaped from the part of the room which was shut off, and from time to time, when Francis came to fetch a curling-iron, Jenkins caught sight of a huge dressing-table laden with a thousand little instruments of ivory, and mother-of-pearl, with steel files, scissors, puffs, and brushes, with bottles, with little trays, with cosmetics, labelled and arranged methodically in groups and lines; and amid all this display, awkward and already shaky, an old man's hand, shrunken and long, delicately trimmed and polished about the nails like that of a Japanese painter, which faltered about among this fine hardware and doll's china.
While continuing the process of making up his face, the longest, the most complicated of his morning occupations, Monpavon chatted with the doctor, told of his little ailments, and the good effect of the pills. They made him young again, he said. And at a distance, thus, without seeing him, one would have taken him for the Duc de Mora, to such a degree had he usurped his manner of speech. There were the same unfinished phrases, ended by "ps, ps, ps," muttered between the teeth, expressions like "What's its name?" "Who was it?" constantly thrown into what he was saying, a kind of aristocratic stutter, fatigued, listless, wherein you might perceive a profound contempt for the vulgar art of speech. In the society of which the duke was the centre, every one sought to imitate that accent, those disdainful intonations with an affectation of simplicity.
Read novel on Internet Archive