Alfred de Musset

Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay (French: [al.fʁɛd də my.sɛ]; 11 December 1810 – 2 May 1857) was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist.[1][2] Along with his poetry, he is known for writing the autobiographical novel La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century).[2]

Alfred de Musset
Musset painted by Charles Landelle
Musset painted by Charles Landelle
BornAlfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay
11 December 1810
Paris, France
Died2 May 1857 (aged 46)
Paris, France
OccupationPoet, dramatist
Literary movementRomanticism

Signature of Alfred de Musset


Plaque Alfred de Musset, 6 rue du Mont-Thabor, Paris 1
Commemorative plaque, Mont-Thabor street, Paris

Musset was born in Paris. His family was upper-class but poor and his father worked in various key government positions, but never gave his son any money. His mother came from similar circumstances, and her role as a society hostess – for example her drawing-room parties, luncheons and dinners held in the Musset residence – left a lasting impression on young Alfred.[2]

Early indications of Musset's boyhood talents were seen by his fondness for acting impromptu mini-plays based upon episodes from old romance stories he had read.[2] Years later, elder brother Paul de Musset would preserve these, and many other details, for posterity, in a biography on his famous younger brother.[2]

Alfred de Musset entered the lycée Henri-IV at the age of nine, where in 1827 he won the Latin essay prize in the Concours général. With the help of Paul Foucher, Victor Hugo's brother-in-law, he began to attend, at the age of 17, the Cénacle, the literary salon of Charles Nodier at the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. After attempts at careers in medicine (which he gave up owing to a distaste for dissections), law,[1] drawing, English and piano, he became one of the first Romantic writers, with his first collection of poems, Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1829, Tales of Spain and Italy).[1] By the time he reached the age of 20, his rising literary fame was already accompanied by a sulphurous reputation fed by his dandy side.

He was the librarian of the French Ministry of the Interior under the July Monarchy. His politics were of a Liberal stamp and he was on good terms with the family of Louis Philippe I.[3] During this time he also involved himself in polemics during the Rhine crisis of 1840, caused by the French prime minister Adolphe Thiers, who as Minister of the Interior had been Musset's superior. Thiers had demanded that France should own the left bank of the Rhine (described as France's "natural boundary"), as it had under Napoleon, despite the territory's German population. These demands were rejected by German songs and poems, including Nikolaus Becker's Rheinlied, which contained the verse: "Sie sollen ihn nicht haben, den freien, deutschen Rhein ..." (They shall not have it, the free, German Rhine). Musset answered to this with a poem of his own: "Nous l'avons eu, votre Rhin allemand" (We've had it, your German Rhine).

The tale of his celebrated love affair with George Sand in 1833–1835[1] is told from his point of view in his autobiographical novel La Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century) (1836),[1] which was made into a 1999 film, Children of the Century, and a 2012 film, Confession of a Child of the Century, and is told from her point of view in her Elle et lui (1859). Musset's Nuits (Nights) (1835–1837) traces the emotional upheaval of his love for Sand from early despair to final resignation.[1] He is also believed to be the anonymous author of Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess (1833), a lesbian erotic novel also believed to be modeled on Sand.[4]

Paris Tombe Musset 2013
Tomb of Alfred de Musset in Père Lachaise Cemetery

Musset was dismissed from his post as librarian by the new minister Ledru-Rollin after the revolution of 1848. He was, however, appointed librarian of the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1853.

On 24 April 1845 Musset received the Légion d'honneur at the same time as Balzac, and was elected to the Académie française in 1852 after two failed attempts in 1848 and 1850.

Alfred de Musset died in his sleep in Paris in 1857. The cause was heart failure, the combination of alcoholism and a longstanding aortic insufficiency. One symptom that had been noticed by his brother was a bobbing of the head as a result of the amplification of the pulse; this was later called de Musset's sign.[5] He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Henri Gervex "Rolla"
Rolla by Henri Gervex, 1878

The French poet Arthur Rimbaud was highly critical of Musset's work. Rimbaud wrote in his Letters of a Seer (Lettres du Voyant) that Musset did not accomplish anything because he "closed his eyes" before the visions (Letter to Paul Demeny, May 1871).

Director Jean Renoir's La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game) was inspired by Musset's play Les Caprices de Marianne.

Henri Gervex's 1878 painting Rolla was based on a poem by De Musset. It was rejected by the jury of the Salon de Paris for immorality, since it features suggestive metaphors in a scene from the poem, with a naked prostitute after having sex with her client, but the controversy helped Gervex's career.


Numerous (often French) composers wrote works using Musset's poetry during the 19th and early 20th century.

Georges Bizet's opera Djamileh (1871, with a libretto by Louis Gallet) is based on Musset's story Namouna.[6] Bizet also set Musset's poem "A Une Fleur" for voice and piano.

Ruggero Leoncavallo's symphonic poem "La Nuit de Mai" (1886) was based on Musset's poetry.

The play La Coupe et les lèvres was the basis of Giacomo Puccini's opera Edgar (1889).

Dame Ethel Smyth composed an opera based on Fantasio that premiered in Weimar in 1898.

The Welsh composer Morfydd Llwyn Owen wrote song settings for Musset's La Tristesse and Chanson de Fortunio.

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Cielo di settembre, op. 1 for solo piano (1910) takes its name from a line of Musset's poem "A quoi rêvent les jeunes filles". The score, in the original publication, is preceded by that line, "Mais vois donc quel beau ciel de septembre…"

Lili Boulanger's Pour les funérailles d'un soldat for baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra is a setting of several lines from Act IV of Musset's play La Coupe et les lèvres.

Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata (1919) is prefaced by two lines from Musset's La Nuit de Mai.[7]

The opera Andrea del Sarto (1968) by French composer Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur (1908–2002) was based on Musset's play André del Sarto.

Lorenzaccio, which takes place in Medici's Florence, was set to music by the musician Sylvano Bussotti in 1972.

Shane Briant plays Alfred de Musset in a Masterpiece Theatre production of "Notorious Woman" in 1974.

In 2007, Céline Dion recorded a song called "Lettre de George Sand à Alfred de Musset" for her album D'elles.


  • "How glorious it is – and also how painful – to be an exception."[8]
  • "Man is a pupil, pain is his teacher."[9]
  • "Verity is nudity."[10]



  • À Mademoiselle Zoé le Douairin (1826).
  • Un rêve (1828).
  • Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1830).
  • La Quittance du diable (1830).
  • La Coupe et les lèvres (1831).
  • Namouna (1831).
  • Rolla (1833).
  • Perdican (1834).
  • Camille et Rosette (1834).
  • L'Espoir en Dieu (1838).
  • La Nuit de mai (1835).
  • La Nuit de décembre (1835).
  • La Nuit d'août (1836).
  • La Nuit d'octobre (1837).
  • La Nuit d'avril (1838).
  • Chanson de Barberine (1836).
  • À la Malibran (1837).
  • Tristesse (1840).
  • Une Soirée perdue (1840).
  • Souvenir (1841).
  • Le Voyage où il vous plaira (1842).
  • Sur la paresse (1842).
  • Après une lecture (1842).
  • Les Filles de Loth (1849).
  • Carmosine (1850).
  • Bettine (1851).
  • Faustine (1851).
  • Œuvres posthumes (1860).


  • La Quittance du diable (1830).
  • La Nuit vénitienne (1830).
    • a failure; from this point until 1847, his plays were published but not performed
  • La Coupe et les lèvres (1831).
  • À quoi rêvent les jeunes filles (1832).
  • André del Sarto (1833).
  • Les Caprices de Marianne (1833).
  • Lorenzaccio (1833).
  • Fantasio (1834).
  • On ne badine pas avec l'amour (1834).
  • La Quenouille de Barberine (1835).
  • Le Chandelier (1835).
  • Il ne faut jurer de rien (1836).
  • Faire sans dire (1836).
  • Un Caprice (1837).
    • first performed in 1847, and a huge success, leading to the performance of other plays
  • Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée (1845).
  • L'Habit vert (1849).
  • Louison (1849).
  • On ne saurait penser à tout (1849).
  • L'Âne et le Ruisseau (1855).


  • La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century, 1836).[2]
  • Histoire d'un merle blanc (The White Blackbird, 1842).

Short stories and novellas

  • Emmeline (1837).
  • Le Fils du Titien (1838).
  • Frédéric et Bernerette (1838).
  • Margot (1838).
  • Croisilles (1839).
  • Les Deux Maîtresses (1840).
  • Histoire d'un merle blanc (1842).
  • Pierre et Camille (1844).
  • Le Secret de Javotte (1844).
  • Les Frères Van Buck (1844).
  • Mimi Pinson (1845).
  • La Mouche (1853).

In English translation

  • A Good Little Wife (1847).
  • Selections from the Prose and Poetry of Alfred de Musset (1870).
  • Tales from Alfred de Musset (1888).
  • The Beauty Spot (1888).
  • Old and New (1890).
  • The Confession of a Child of the Century (1892).
  • Barberine (1892).
  • The Complete Writings of Alfred de Musset (1907).
  • The Green Coat (1914).
  • Fantasio (1929).
  • Camille and Perdican (1961).
  • Historical Dramas (1997).
  • Lorenzaccio (1998).
  • Twelve Plays (2001).

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b c d e f His names are often reversed "Louis Charles Alfred de Musset": see "(Louis Charles) Alfred de Musset" (bio),, 2007, webpage: Bio9413.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Chessville – Alfred de Musset: Romantic Player", Robert T. Tuohey,, 2006, webpage: Chessville-deMusset Archived 23 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ The Spectator, Volume 50. F.C. Westley. 1877. p. 983.
  4. ^ Kendall-Davies, Barbara (2003). The Life and Work of Pauline Viardot Garcia. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 45–46. ISBN 1-904303-27-7.
  5. ^ "Twelve eponymous signs of aortic regurgitation, one of which was named after a patient instead of a physician.", in: The American Journal of Cardiology, vol. 93, issue 10, 15 May 2004, pp. 1332–3; by Tsung O. Cheng MD.
  6. ^ Macdonald, Hugh. "Djamileh". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera – Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 4 September 2014. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Curtis, Liane. "Clarke, Rebecca". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  8. ^ Auden, W.H.; Kronenberger, Louis (1966). The Viking Book of Aphorisms. New York: Viking Press.
  9. ^ "A quote by Alfred de Musset".
  10. ^ Ballou, Maturin Murray (1881). Pearls of Thought. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Company, p. 266.


  • Affron, Charles (2015). A Stage For Poets: Studies in the Theatre of Hugo and Musset. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Bishop, Lloyd (1987). The Poetry of Alfred de Musset. Styles and Genres. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Croce, Benedetto (1924). "De Musset." In: European Literature in the Nineteenth Century. London: Chapman & Hall, pp. 252–266.
  • Gochberg, Herbert S. (1967). Stage of Dreams: The Dramatic Art of Alfred de Musset (1828-1834). Genève: Librairie Droz.
  • Majewski, Henry F. (1989). Paradigm & Parody: Images of Creativity in French Romaniticism. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
  • Rees, Margaret A. (1971). Alfred de Musset. New York, N.Y.: Twayne Publishers.
  • Sedgewick, Henry D. (1931). Alfred de Musset, 1910–1857. Indianapolis: Bobbs–Merrill Company.
  • Sices, David (1974). The Theatre of Solitude. The Drama of Alfred de Musset. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England.

Further reading

  • "Alfred de Musset, Poet", The Edinburgh Review, Vol. CCIV, 1906, pp. 103–132.
  • Barine, Arvède (1906). The Life of Alfred de Musset. New York: Edwin C. Hill Company.
  • Besant, Walter (1893). "Alfred de Musset." In: Essays and Historiettes. London: Chatto & Windus, pp. 144–169.
  • Beus, Yifen (2003). "Alfred de Musset's Romantic Irony," Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. XXXI, No. 3/4, pp. 197–209.
  • Bishop, Lloyd (1979). "Romantic Irony in Musset's 'Namouna'," Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. VII, No. 3/4, pp. 181–191.
  • Bourcier, Richard J. (1984). "Alfred de Musset: Poetry and Music," The American Benedictine Review, Vol. XXXV, pp. 17–24.
  • Brandes, Georg (1904). Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature, Vol. V. New York: The Macmillan Company, pp. 90–131.
  • Denommé, Robert Thomas (1969). Nineteenth-century French Romantic Poets. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • Gamble, D.R. (1989–1990). "Alfred de Musset and the Uses of Experience," Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. XVIII, No. 1/2, pp. 78–84.
  • Gooder, Jean (1986). "Alive or Dead? Alfred de Musset's Supper with Rachel," The Cambridge Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 2, pp. 173–187.
  • Grayson Jane (1995). "The French Connection: Nabokov and Alfred de Musset. Ideas and Practices of Translation," The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. LXXIII, No. 4, pp. 613–658.
  • Greet, Anne Hyde (1967). "Humor in the Poetry of Alfred de Musset," Studies in Romanticism, Vol. VI, No. 3, pp. 175–192.
  • James, Henry (1878). "Alfred de Musset." In: French Poets and Novelists. London: Macmillan & Co., pp. 1–38.
  • Lefebvre, Henri (1970). Musset: Essai. Paris: L'Arche.
  • Levin, Susan (1998). The Romantic Art of Confession. Columbia, SC: Camden House.
  • Mauris, Maurice (1880). "Alfred de Musset." In: French Men of Letters. New York: D. Appleton and Company, pp. 35–65.
  • Musset, Paul de (1877). The Biography of Alfred de Musset. Boston: Roberts Brothers.
  • Oliphant, Cyril Francis (1890). Alfred de Musset. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons.
  • Padgett, Graham (1981). "Bad Faith in Alfred de Musset: A Problem of Interpretation," Dalhousie French Studies, Vol. III, pp. 65–82.
  • Palgrave, Francis T. (1855). "The Works of Alfred de Musset." In: Oxford Essays. London: John W. Parker, pp. 80–104.
  • Pitwood, Michael (1985). "Musset." In: Dante and the French Romantics. Genève: Librairie Droz, pp. 209–217.
  • Pollock, Walter Herries (1879). "Alfred de Musset." In: Lectures on French Poets. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., pp. 43–96.
  • Rees, Margaret A. (1963). "Imagery in the Plays of Alfred de Musset," The French Review, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, pp. 245–254.
  • Sainte-Beuve, C.A. (1891). "Alfred de Musset." In: Portraits of Men. London: David Scott, pp. 23–35.
  • Stothert, James (1878). "Alfred de Musset," The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. CCXLIII, pp. 215–234.
  • Thomas, Merlin (1985). "Alfred de Musset: Don Juan on the Boulevard de Gand." In: Myths and its Making in the French Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 158–165.
  • Trent, William P. (1899). "Tennyson and Musset Once More." In: The Authority of Criticism. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 269–291.
  • Wright, Rachel L. (1992). "Male Reflectors in the Drama of Alfred de Musset," The French Review, Vol. LXV, No. 3, pp. 393–401.

External links

Confession of a Child of the Century

Confession of a Child of the Century (French: Confession d'un enfant du siècle) is a 2012 drama film directed by Sylvie Verheyde. The film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. In spite of its selection to the prestigious festival, the film gained notoriety as being the lowest-grossing US theatrical release of 2015; it generated only US$74 from its one-week, one-theater theatrical run. The film is an adaptation of Alfred de Musset's 1836 autobiographical novel of the same name.


D'elles (meaning About Them or From Them) is a French-language studio album by Canadian singer Celine Dion, released by Columbia Records on 18 May 2007. It is a concept album which features thirteen songs written by influential female authors from France and Quebec, including: Françoise Dorin, Christine Orban, Nina Bouraoui, Marie Laberge, Lise Payette, Denise Bombardier, Nathalie Nechtschein, Jovette Alice Bernier, Janette Bertrand and George Sand. The themes throughout this album centre on "woman"; the album's title is a play on the title of her earlier album D'eux, replacing the third person plural masculine or neutral pronoun eux with the feminine elles.

The first single, "Et s'il n'en restait qu'une (je serais celle-là)" reached number one in France and number two in Quebec. It was followed by another Quebec top ten single, "Immensité".

D'elles received favorable reviews from music critics, some of whom noticed that it is Dion's most ambitious project in a long time. On the commercial level, the album debuted at number one in Canada and France, and also topped the chart in Belgium Wallonia and reached number three in Switzerland. It was certified two times platinum in Canada, platinum in France, and gold in Belgium and Switzerland.

De Musset's sign

de Musset's sign is a condition in which there is rhythmic nodding or bobbing of the head in synchrony with the beating of the heart, in general as a result of aortic regurgitation whereby blood from the aorta regurgitates into the left ventricle due to a defect in the aortic valve. The nodding is an indication that the systolic pulse is being felt by the patient because of the increased pulse pressure resulting from the aortic insufficiency. The condition was named after the French poet Alfred de Musset. De Musset's sign is a type of head tremor.


Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess (French: Gamiani, ou deux nuits d'excès) is a French erotic novel first published in 1833. Its authorship is anonymous, but it is believed to have been written by Alfred de Musset and the lesbian eponymous heroine a portrait of his lover, George Sand. It became a bestseller among nineteenth century erotic literature.The novel was illustrated with unsigned lithographs whose authorship remains unknown. They have been attributed to Achille Devéria and Octave Tassaert, among others.

Julien Bertheau

Julien Bertheau (19 June 1910 – 28 October 1995) was a French actor.

Le Chandelier

Le Chandelier is an 1835 play in three acts by French dramatist Alfred de Musset.The play was first published in 1835 in Revue des deux Mondes. It was first staged at the Théâtre Historique in August 1848 with Mademoiselle Maillet as Jacqueline. In October 1850, it was produced at the Comédie-Française with a cast including Delaunay as Fortunio and Allan as Jacqueline. In October 1850, the interior minister Léon Faucher had the work banned, a decision confirmed in subsequent seasons.Jacques Offenbach, who wrote incidental music for the Comédie-Française production, made a sequel entitled La chanson de Fortunio. An opera of 1907 by André Messager, Fortunio, was based closely on the play.


Lorenzaccio is a French play of the Romantic period written by Alfred de Musset in 1834, set in 16th-century Florence, and depicting Lorenzino de' Medici, who killed Florence's tyrant, Alessandro de' Medici, his cousin. Having engaged in debaucheries to gain the Duke's confidence, he loses the trust of Florence's citizens, thus earning the insulting surname "Lorenzaccio". Though he kills Alessandro, he knows he will never return to his former state. Since opponents to the tyrant's regime fail to use Alessandro's death as a way to overthrow the dukedom and establish a republic, Lorenzo's action does not appear to aid the people's welfare. Written soon after the July revolution of 1830, at the start of the July Monarchy, when King Louis Philippe I overthrew King Charles X of France, the play contains many cynical comments on the lack of true republican sentiments in the face of violent overthrow. The play was inspired by George Sand's Une conspiration en 1537, in turn inspired by Varchi's chronicles. As much of Romantic tragedy, including plays by Victor Hugo, it was influenced by William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Lorenzaccio (film)

Lorenzaccio is a 1951 Italian historical drama film directed by Raffaello Pacini and starring Giorgio Albertazzi, Folco Lulli and Anna Maria Ferrero. It is an adaptation of the 1834 play Lorenzaccio by Alfred de Musset about the life of Lorenzino de' Medici.

Mimi Pinson (1924 film)

Mimi Pinson is a 1924 French silent drama film directed by Théo Bergerat and starring Gabriel de Gravone, Simone Vaudry and Maud Garden. It is based on a poem of the same name by Alfred de Musset.

Mimi Pinson (1958 film)

Mimi Pinson is a 1958 French comedy-drama film directed by Robert Darène and starring Dany Robin, Raymond Pellegrin and Micheline Dax. It draws some inspiration from the poem of the same name by Alfred de Musset.

No Trifling with Love

No Trifling with Love (French: On ne badine pas avec l'amour) is a 1977 French drama film directed by Caroline Huppert. It is based on the theatrical work of Alfred de Musset of the same name.

One Does Not Play with Love

One Does Not Play with Love (German: Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe) is a 1926 silent German drama film directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The film is an adaptation of the 1834 play by Alfred de Musset, On ne badine pas avec l'amour. The film is considered to be a lost film.

Paul de Musset

Paul Edme de Musset, born in Paris 7 November 1804, died in the same city 17 May 1880, was a French writer.

Brother of Alfred de Musset, he was well known for his family, who were very famous at the time, as well as for his own writings, including biographies.

In 1859, two years after the death of his brother, Paul de Musset published Lui et Elle, a parody of the autobiography of George Sand, Elle et Lui, published six months previously and dealing with his relationship with Alfred de Musset. In 1861, he married Aimée d'Alton, who had also been involved with Alfred de Musset and whom she had also been engaged to in her youth.

The Moods of Marianne

The Moods of Marianne (French: Les Caprices de Marianne) is an 1833 play by the French dramatist Alfred de Musset. It served as the basis for Jean Renoir's film The Rules of the Game (1939).The play was first published on 15 May 1833 in La Revue des Deux Mondes. It was played at the Comédie-Française on 14 June 1851.

An opera by Henri Sauguet, Les caprices de Marianne, was also based closely on the play.

The Student of Prague (1913 film)

The Student of Prague (German: Der Student von Prag, also known as A Bargain with Satan) is a 1913 German silent horror film. It is loosely based on "William Wilson", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem The December Night by Alfred de Musset, and Faust. The film was remade in 1926, under the same title The Student of Prague. Other remakes were produced in 1935 and 2004. The film stars Paul Wegener in his film debut. It is generally deemed to be the first independent film in history.

The Student of Prague (1926 film)

The Student of Prague (German: Der Student von Prag) is a 1926 Expressionist silent film by actor and filmmaker Henrik Galeen.The film is a remake of The Student of Prague (1913). It is considered as Galeen's most important film since The Golem (1915) and is regarded as his magnum opus. The film draws on the Faust legend.The film crew involved some famous names: designer Hermann Warm; cinematographer Günther Krampf; and the actors Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Dagny Servaes, Leni Riefenstahl and Elizza La Porta. Der Student von Prag made La Porta a well-known actress.

Two Friends (2015 film)

Two Friends (French: Les Deux Amis) is a 2015 French romantic dramedy film directed by Louis Garrel and co-written by Garrel and Christophe Honoré. The film is loosely based on the play The Moods of Marianne by Alfred de Musset. It was selected to screen in the International Critics' Week section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Un caprice

Un caprice is a play written in 1837 by Alfred de Musset and performed for the first time in 1843 at the French theatre in Saint Petersburg, the Mikhaylovsky Theatre, then in France at the Comédie-Française on 27 November 1847.

It was Mrs Allan-Despréaux who introduced the piece to the francophone Russian public, and played the role of Mrs de Léry, continuing it on the play's return to Paris in 1847. It was the first theatrical success for Alfred de Musset. Jules Janin praised the play in Le Journal des débats and Théophile Gautier stated in La Presse that the play was "a great literary achievement".


Weltschmerz (from the German, literally world-pain, also world weariness, pronounced [ˈvɛltʃmɛɐ̯ts]) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. This kind of world view was widespread among several romantic and decadent authors such as Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, William Blake, the Marquis de Sade, Charles Baudelaire, Giacomo Leopardi, Paul Verlaine, François-René de Chateaubriand, Alfred de Musset, Mikhail Lermontov, Nikolaus Lenau, Hermann Hesse, and Heinrich Heine.Frederick C. Beiser defines Weltschmerz more broadly as "a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering", and notes that by the 1860s the word was used ironically in Germany to refer to oversensitivity to those same concerns.

Theologians and
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