Authors: Alfred de Vigny

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Poèmes, 1822

Eloa, 1824

Poèmes antiques et modernes, 1826, 1829, 1837

Les Destinées, 1864

Long Fiction:

Cinq-Mars, 1826 (Cinq-Mars: Or, A Conspiracy Under Louis XIII, 1847)

L’Alméh, 1831

Stello, 1832

Daphné, 1912

Short Fiction:

Servitude et grandeurs militaires, 1835 (The Military Necessity, 1919)

Drama:

Le More de Venise, pr. 1829 (translation of William Shakespeare’s Othello)

La Maréchale d’Ancre, pr. 1831

Quitte pour la peur, pr. 1833 (one act)

Chatterton, pr., pb. 1835

Nonfiction:

Le Journal d’un poète, 1867

Biography

In French literature Alfred Victor, Comte de Vigny (veen-yee), is important as a great pioneer of the Romantic movement in the nineteenth century, but to speakers of English he is best known as the author of Cinq-Mars, a historical romance. Vigny, following a long family tradition, began his career as an officer in the French army in 1814, at the age of seventeen. He retired from military life in 1827, after thirteen years of peacetime service. Before retiring he had already begun to write, and a volume of his verse, Poèmes, had been published in 1822. This volume was followed by a series of narrative poems, including Eloa in 1824.{$I[AN]9810000334}{$I[A]Vigny, Alfred de}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Vigny, Alfred de}{$I[tim]1797;Vigny, Alfred de}

Vigny’s early poetry, collected in 1837, was, according to his own preface to that edition, philosophic thought clothed in the form of poetic art. Alfred de Musset, Victor Hugo, and Alphonse de Lamartine, all later important French Romantic poets, were influenced by Vigny’s work. In his later poetry he tried to analyze human problems and present them through biblical symbols.

In addition to his poetry and his very popular novel Cinq-Mars, Vigny translated works of William Shakespeare into French, wrote studies of the poet in modern society in Stello, wrote plays (including one about the English poet Thomas Chatterton), and published a volume of sketches and essays on military life.

In private life Vigny was unfortunate. He was married to an Englishwoman, Lydia Bunbury, in 1825, but she shortly afterward became permanently disabled. From 1831 to 1838 Vigny was the lover of Marie Dorval, a celebrated actress, but the affair ended unhappily. He was barely elected to the French Academy in 1845. Twice he ran unsuccessfully for the French Assembly, in 1848 and 1849. Vigny died of cancer September 17, 1863.

BibliographyBowman, Frank Paul. “The Poetic Practices of Vigny’s Poèmes philosophiques.” Modern Language Review 60 (1965): 359-368. Vigny was famous for his use of Stoic philosophy in his poems. This essay examines Vigny’s skill in persuading his readers to admire his characters, who maintain their dignity in the face of true suffering.Doolittle, James. Alfred de Vigny. New York: Twayne, 1967. This short book is a good introduction in English to Vigny’s lyric poetry and to his more famous historical novels, including Cinq-Mars and The Military Necessity. Includes bibliography.McGoldrick, Malcolm. “The Setting in Vigny’s ‘La Mort du loup.’” The Language Quarterly 29, nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring, 1991): 104-114. In one of Vigny’s best-known poems, the speaker is a hunter who kills a wolf but finally comes to admire the dying wolf’s courageous efforts to protect his family. Shows how the setting in a forest isolates the hunter from others and makes him reflect on the consequences of his actions.McLeman-Carnie, Janette. “Monologue: A Dramatic Strategy in Alfred de Vigny’s Rhetoric.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 23, nos. 3/4 (Spring/Summer, 1988): 253-265. Some of Vigny’s most famous poems are dramatic monologues in which the speaker conveys his understanding of what he sees before him. Vigny was also a dramatist, and this essay examines his skill in making his readers identify with the internal struggles of his speakers.Shwimer, Elaine K. The Novels of Alfred de Vigny: A Study of Their Form and Composition. New York: Garland, 1991. Critical study includes bibliographic references.Wren, Keith. Vigny’s “Les Destinées.” London: Grant & Cutler, 1985. A thoughtful study of Vigny’s posthumously published book of poetry. This short book describes the artistry and philosophical depth of this work.
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