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PAUL MARGUERITTE (186o— )

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 707 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PAUL MARGUERITTE (186o— ) and VICTOR (1866— ), French novelists, both born in Algeria, were the sons of General Jean Auguste Margueritte (1823—1870), who after an honourable career in Algeria was mortally wounded in the great cavalry charge at Sedan, and died in Belgium, on the 6th of September 187o. An account of his life was published by Paul Margueritte as Mon Pere (1884; enlarged ed., 1897). The names of the two brothers are generally associated, on account of their collaboration. Paul Margueritte, who has given a picture of his home in Algiers in Le Jardin du passe (1895), was sent to the military school of La Fleche for the sons of officers, and became in 188o clerk to the minister of public instruction. He designed two pantomimes, Pierrot assassin de sa femme (Theatre Libre, 1882), and Colombine pardonnee (Cercle funambulesque, 1888), in which the traditional Pierrot, played by Margueritte himself, became a nervous, tragic creature. He resigned his clerkship in 1889 to devote himself entirely to literature, producing in rapid succession a series of novels, among which were Tous quatre (1885), La Confession posthume (1886), Maison ouverte (1887), Pascal Gefosse (1887), Jours d'epreuve (1889), Amants (189o),La Force des choses (1891), Sur le retour (1892), La Tour mente (1893), Ma grande (1892), Ame d'enfant (1894) and L'Eau qui dort (1896). Paul Margueritte had begun as a realistic novelist, but he was one of the five writers who signed a manifesto against Zola's La Terre, and he made his reputation by delicate, sober studies of the by-ways of sentiment. His brother Victor entered his father's regiment, the 1st chasseurs d'Afrique, in 1888, and served in the army until 1896, when he resigned his commission. He was already known by some volumes of poetry, and by a translation from Calderon (La Double meprise, played at the Odeon, 1898) when he began to collaborate with his brother. From the time of this collaboration Paul Margueritte's work gained in colour and force. Among the books written in common by the brothers, the most famous is the series known under the collective title, Une Epoque, dealing with the events of 187o-1871, and including the novels Le Desastre (1898), Les Tronrcons du glaive (19oo), Les Braves gens (19o1), La Commune (1904). They also collaborated in an Histoire de la guerre de r87o-1871(1903). These books were founded on a mass of documentary and verbal information, amassed with great care and arranged with admirable art; the authors are historians rather than novelists. The disasters and humiliations of the campaigns are faithfully described, but are traced to defects of organization and leadership; while the courage and patriotism of the army itself is made the 'basis of an assured confidence in the destinies of France. La Commune is a bold indictment of the methods adopted by the victorious party. The novelists also attacked the laws governing marriage and divorce and the abuses entailed by the dowry demanded from the bride, in pamphlets and in the novels, Femmes nouvelles (1899), Les Deux vies (1902), and Le Prisme (1905). Their literary partner-ship was dissolved in 1907. Paul Margueritte was one of the original members of the Academic de Goncourt. See P. et V. Margueritte (1905) by E. Pilon, in the series of Celebrites d'aujourd'hui, and A. France, La Vie litteraire (4th series, 1892).
End of Article: PAUL MARGUERITTE (186o— )
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