Mal du siècle

Mal du siècle (French: [mal dy sjɛkl], "sickness of the century") is a term used to refer to the ennui, disillusionment, and melancholy experienced by primarily young adults of Europe's early 19th century, when speaking in terms of the rising Romantic movement. François-René de Chateaubriand's protagonist René characterizes the Romantic ennui that would become a benchmark of the Romantic esthetic in the first half of the century:

René is a young man who was suffering from the moral malady known as "le mal du siècle". This was an "état d'âme"[note 1] that was not uncommon during the first half of the nineteenth century, and that was often copied and idealized in literature. It was largely boredom. Other manifestations were: melancholy of an aristocratic type, precocious apathy, discouragement without cause, distaste for living. The will seemed paralyzed by the contemplation of life's struggle. Faith and a sense of duty were alike absent. Man was "possédé, tourmenté par le démon de son cœur."[note 2] Morbid sadness was mistaken for the suffering of a proud and superior mind. There was in it all a certain "bonheur d'être triste"[note 3] which attracted. This pessimistic state was analyzed in René with great subtlety and penetration. The hero was made a most original and living type, a type that was repeated in the Childe Harold and Manfred of Byron, and even, in some of its manifestations, in the Hernani of Victor Hugo. In the opinion of Chateaubriand, René was his masterpiece. Later judgments regarding it are not unanimous, but many authoritative French critics see in it one of the masterpieces of their literature.[1]

While Chateaubriand was the first to "diagnose" this "illness", it is Alfred de Musset who further popularized the notion of a "mal du siècle" in his La Confession d'un enfant du siècle (Confession of a Child of the Century).[2] Musset notably attributed the malady to the loss of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French nation's modern father figure:

Voilà dans quel chaos il fallut choisir alors; voilà ce qui se présentait à des enfants pleins de force et d'audace, fils de l'empire et petits-fils de la révolution. [...] l'esprit du siècle, ange du crépuscule, qui n'est ni la nuit, ni le jour.[3]

Lo and behold in what chaos, then, one must choose; behold the choice that is given to children full of strength and audacity, sons of the Empire and grandsons of the Revolution. [...] the spirit of the century, angel of dusk, that which is neither night nor day.

Edgar Degas- Melancholy
Edgar Degas, Melancholy (c. 1874)
Gallen Kallela Symposion
Akseli Gallen-Kallela,' painting Symposium made in 1894. From left: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Oskar Merikanto, Robert Kajanus and Jean Sibelius.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ State of the soul
  2. ^ Possessed, tormented by the demon of his heart
  3. ^ Happiness at being sad

References

  1. ^ Chateaubriand, François-René. Atala and René. Trans. Benjamin Lester Bowen. Scott, Foresman and Company, 1901.
  2. ^ Hoog, Armand and Brombert, Beth. "Who Invented the Mal du Siècle?" Yale French Studies, No. 13, Romanticism Revisited (1954), pp. 42-51
  3. ^ Musset, Alfred de. La Confession d'un enfant du siècle. Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1993, p. 31

External links

19th-century French literature

19th-century French literature concerns the developments in French literature during a dynamic period in French history that saw the rise of Democracy and the fitful end of Monarchy and Empire. The period covered spans the following political regimes: Napoleon Bonaparte's Consulate (1799–1804) and Empire (1804–1814), the Restoration under Louis XVIII and Charles X (1814–1830), the July Monarchy under Louis Philippe d'Orléans (1830–1848), the Second Republic (1848–1852), the Second Empire under Napoleon III (1852–1871), and the first decades of the Third Republic (1871–1940).

António Augusto Soares de Passos

António Augusto Soares de Passos (27 November 1826 – 8 February 1860), also referred to simply as Soares de Passos, was a Portuguese poet, creator of the "Ultra-Romanticism" in Portugal. Son of merchants and a follower of the Liberal ideas, having learned French and English during his youth, he entered at the University of Coimbra to graduate in Law. There, he met Alexandre Braga, Silva Ferraz and Aires de Gouveia, founding with them, in 1851, the magazine O Novo Trovador (The New Trobadour).

Having already graduated, in 1854, he returned to Porto, collaborating in the poetry journals O Bardo (The Bard) and A Grinalda (The Garland). The only book Passos published during his lifetime was his poetry book Poesias (Poetry), in 1856. The poems mostly speak of death and the wrath of God, all of them with heavy mal du siècle traces.

Having a very tumultuated life, and constantly assailed by diseases, he died in 1860, a victim of tuberculosis.

Auguste Edgard Dietrich

Auguste Edgard Dietrich or Auguste Edgar Dietrich (born 1846 in Nancy) was a French author and translator.

Aureliano Lessa

Aureliano José Lessa (1828–1861) was a Brazilian poet, adept of the "Ultra-Romanticism" movement. Born in Minas Gerais in 1828, he moved to São Paulo in 1847 to study Law, but received his bacharel degree at the Faculdade de Direito de Olinda, in Pernambuco, in 1851. He worked as attorney general in the city of Ouro Preto, and also as a lawyer in the cities of Diamantina and Serro.

During his stay at São Paulo he met the authors Álvares de Azevedo and Bernardo Guimarães. With them, he planned a volume of poetry called As Três Liras (in English: The Three Lyres), that ended unsuccessful. Along with those and others, he was a member of a club named "Sociedade Epicureia" ("Epicurean Society").

Aureliano only wrote some texts to newspapers of São Paulo and Minas Gerais during his lifetime. His poems were compiled and published posthumously in 1873 by his brother, Francisco José Pedro Lessa, under the name of Poesias Póstumas (in English: Posthumous Poetry).

A heavy drinker, Lessa died in February 21, 1861, because of a lesion in his heart, caused by his alcoholism.

Aureliano was the uncle of Pedro Augusto Carneiro Lessa.

Carl Loewe

Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe (German: [ˈløːvə]; 30 November 1796 – 20 April 1869), usually called Carl Loewe (sometimes seen as Karl Loewe), was a German composer, tenor singer and conductor. In his lifetime, his songs (Lieder) were well enough known for some to call him the "Schubert of North Germany", and Hugo Wolf came to admire his work. He is less known today, but his ballads and songs, which number over 400, are occasionally performed.

Charles Dédéyan

Charles Dédéyan (4 April 1910 – 21 June 2003) was a French Romance philologist, literature comparatist and specialist of French literature of Armenian origin.

Cyprian Norwid

Cyprian Kamil Norwid, a.k.a. Cyprian Konstanty Norwid (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡sɨprjan ˈnɔrvid]; 24 September 1821 – 23 May 1883), was a nationally esteemed Polish poet, dramatist, painter, and sculptor. He was born in the Masovian village of Laskowo-Głuchy near Warsaw. One of his maternal ancestors was the Polish King John III Sobieski.Norwid is regarded as one of the second generation of romantics. He wrote many well-known poems including Fortepian Szopena ("Chopin's Piano"), Moja piosnka [II] ("My Song [II]") and Bema pamięci żałobny-rapsod (A Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem). Norwid led a tragic and often poverty-stricken life (once he had to live in a cemetery crypt). He experienced increasing health problems, unrequited love, harsh critical reviews, and increasing social isolation. He lived abroad most of his life, especially in London and, in Paris where he died.

Norwid's original and non-conformist style was not appreciated in his lifetime and partially due to this fact, he was excluded from high society. His work was only rediscovered and appreciated by the Young Poland art movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is now considered one of the four most important Polish Romantic poets. Other literary historians, however, consider this an oversimplification, and regard his style to be more characteristic of classicism and parnassianism.

Daniel Auber

Daniel François Esprit Auber (French: [danjɛl fʁɑ̃swa ɛspʁi obɛːʁ]; 29 January 1782 – 12/13 May 1871) was a French composer.

Fin de siècle

Fin de siècle (French pronunciation: ​[fɛ̃ də sjɛkl]) is a French term meaning end of century, a term which typically encompasses both the meaning of the similar English idiom turn of the century and also makes reference to the closing of one era and onset of another. The term is typically used to refer to the end of the 19th century. This period was widely thought to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning. The "spirit" of fin de siècle often refers to the cultural hallmarks that were recognized as prominent in the 1880s and 1890s, including ennui, cynicism, pessimism, and "...a widespread belief that civilization leads to decadence."The term "fin de siècle" is commonly applied to French art and artists, as the traits of the culture first appeared there, but the movement affected many European countries. The term becomes applicable to the sentiments and traits associated with the culture, as opposed to focusing solely on the movement's initial recognition in France. The ideas and concerns developed by fin de siècle artists provided the impetus for movements such as symbolism and modernism.The themes of fin de siècle political culture were very controversial and have been cited as a major influence on fascism and as a generator of the science of geopolitics, including the theory of lebensraum. Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Nottingham, Michael Heffernan, and Mackubin Thomas Owens wrote about the origins of geopolitics: "The idea that this project required a new name in 1899 reflected a widespread belief that the changes taking place in the global economic and political system were seismically important." The "new world of the Twentieth century would need to be understood in its entirety, as an integrated global whole." Technology and global communication made the world "smaller" and turned into a single system; the time was characterized by pan-ideas and a utopian "one-worldism", proceeding further than pan-ideas.

What we now think of geopolitics had its origins in fin de siècle Europe in response to technological change ... and the creation of a "closed political system" as European imperialist competition extinguished the world's "frontiers."

The major political theme of the era was that of revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society, and liberal democracy. The fin-de-siècle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism, and vitalism, while the mindset of the age saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.

Félicien David

Félicien-César David (13 April 1810 – 29 August 1876) was a French composer.

José Bonifácio the Younger

José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (November 8, 1827 – October 26, 1886) was a French-born Brazilian poet, teacher and senator. He is known as "the Younger" (Portuguese: O Moço) to distinguish him from his grand-uncle, José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, "the Elder" or "the Patriarch", a famous statesman who was one of the most important mentors of Brazilian independence.

He is the patron of the 22nd chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and of the 7th chair of the Paulista Academy of Letters.

José Melchor Gomis

José Melchor Gomis y Colomer (6 January 1791 – 4 August 1836) was a Spanish Romantic composer. He was born in 1791 in Ontinyent, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia Province.He was director of music for an artillery regiment during the Napoleonic Wars. An early melodrame by Gomis for voice and orchestra was performed at Valencia in 1817.He wrote the music of the Himno de Riego, named after the rebellious General Riego (1784-1823) and since used as the national anthem by various republican governments of Spain.

Gomis's political views caused him to live in exile after the accession of Ferdinand VII in 1823, in Paris and in London. In both cities he was a friend of his fellow exile the composer Santiago Masarnau, whom he may have introduced to London musical life. In Paris, Gomis wrote a successful singing method, published in 1826 with dedications to Gioacchino Rossini and François-Adrien Boieldieu, and in London his choral work L'inverno was performed in 1827. In 1830 his opera Aben-Humeya was performed in Paris. Gomis's Paris operas Diable à Seville (1831) (staged with the support of Rossini) and Le revenant (1836) gained respectful reviews from Hector Berlioz. Le portefaix, the most successful of his operas, had a libretto by Eugène Scribe (originally offered to the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer).Gomis was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by King Louis-Philippe. Gomis died in Paris in 1836 of tuberculosis, leaving a number of works unfinished, including the opera Le comte Julien, also to a libretto by Scribe (and eventually set in 1851 by Sigismond Thalberg as Florinda).

Junqueira Freire

Luís José Junqueira Freire (December 31, 1832 – June 24, 1855) was a Brazilian poet and Benedictine monk, adept of the "Ultra-Romanticism" movement and author of Inspirações do Claustro. He is the patron of the 25th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Louise Bertin

Louise-Angélique Bertin (Les Roches, Essonne, 15 January 1805 – Paris, 26 April 1877) was a French composer and poet.Louise Bertin lived her entire life in France. Her father, Louis-François Bertin, and also her brother later on, were the editors of Journal des débats, an influential newspaper. As encouraged by her family, Bertin pursued music. She received lessons from François-Joseph Fétis, who directed a private family performance of Guy Mannering, Bertin's first opera, in 1825. This opera, never formally produced, took its story line from the book of the same name, written by Sir Walter Scott. Two years later, Bertin's second opera, Le Loup-garou, was produced at the Opéra-Comique.

At the age of 21, Bertin began working on an opera semiseria, Fausto to her own libretto in Italian, based on Goethe's Faust, a subject "almost certainly suggested" by her father. A performance of the completed opera was scheduled for 1830. However, due to many unforeseen complications, Fausto did not actually reach the stage until a full year later. It was not well received and only saw three performances.

Shortly before this, Bertin became friends with Victor Hugo. Hugo himself had sketched out an operatic version of his book Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and between the two of them, the opera La Esmeralda was born, Hugo providing the libretto. Bertin was the only composer to have collaborated directly with Hugo on an opera. However, as the opera’s run began in 1836, there were accusations against Bertin and her family, claiming she had special privileges due to her brother Armand's connection to the government's opera administration. During the seventh performance, a riot ensued and the run of La Esmeralda was forced to end, though a version of the opera continued to be performed over the next three years. The composer Hector Berlioz, who helped Bertin with the staging and production of La Esmeralda, was also accused of providing the better music of this work, a charge he vehemently denied. In frustration, Bertin refused to write any more operas. In 1837, Franz Liszt transcribed the orchestral score for solo piano (S.476), and made a piano transcription of the "Air chanté par Massol" (S.477).

Bertin did however continue to compose in many different genres. Her later compositions include twelve cantatas, six piano ballades, five chamber symphonies, a few string quartets, a piano trio (which includes themes from both her early Fausto and La Esmeralda), and many vocal selections. Of these, only the ballades and the trio were published.

Bertin also wrote and published two volumes of poetry, Les Glanes in 1842 and Nouvelles Glanes in 1876. The former of these received a prize from the Académie française. Bertin died the year after the publication of Nouvelles Glanes.

Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò (or Nicolò) Paganini (Italian: [ni(k)koˈlɔ ppaɡaˈniːni] (listen); 27 October 1782 – 27 May 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His 24 Caprices for Solo Violin Op. 1 are among the best known of his compositions, and have served as an inspiration for many prominent composers.

Orest Kiprensky

Orest Adamovich Kiprensky (Russian: Орест Адамович Кипренский 24 March [O.S. 13 March] 1782-17 October [O.S. 5 October] 1836) was a leading Russian portraitist in the Age of Romanticism. His most familiar work is probably his portrait of Alexander Pushkin (1827), which prompted the poet to remark that "the mirror flatters me".

René (novella)

René is a short novella by François-René de Chateaubriand, which first appeared in 1802. The work had an immense impact on early Romanticism, comparable to that of Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. Like the German novel, it deals with a sensitive and passionate young man who finds himself at odds with contemporary society. René was first published as part of Chateaubriand's Génie du christianisme along with another novella; Atala, although it was in fact an excerpt from a long prose epic the author had composed between 1793 and 1799 called Les Natchez, which would not be made public until 1826. René enjoyed such immediate popularity that it was republished separately in 1805 along with Atala.

Ultra-Romanticism

Ultra-Romanticism (in Portuguese, Ultrarromantismo) was a Portuguese literary movement that took place during the second half of the 19th century and later arrived in Brazil. Aesthetically similar to (but not exactly the same as) the German- and British-originated Dark Romanticism, it was typified by a tendency to exaggerate, at times to a ridiculous degree, the norms and ideals of Romanticism, namely the value of subjectivity, individualism, amorous idealism, nature and the medieval world. The Ultra-Romantics generated literary works of highly contendable quality, some of them being considered as "romance of knife and earthenware bowl", given the succession of bloody crimes that they invariably described, which realists fiercely denounced.

In Portugal, the first Ultra-Romantic piece ever written was the poem "O noivado do sepulcro" ("The tombstone engagement") by António Augusto Soares de Passos, while in Brazil the first major Ultra-Romantic works were the books Lira dos Vinte Anos (Twenty-year-old Lyre) and Noite na Taverna (A Night at the Tavern) by Álvares de Azevedo.

In Brazil, it is called "the second phase of the Brazilian Romanticism", being preceded by the "Indianism" and succeeded by the "Condorism".

Weltschmerz

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.

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