Poèmes antiques et modernes, 1826, 1829, 1837
Les Destinées, 1864
Cinq-Mars, 1826 (Cinq-Mars: Or, A Conspiracy Under Louis XIII, 1847)
Servitude et grandeurs militaires, 1835 (The Military Necessity, 1919)
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
Le Journal d’un poète, 1867
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.
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.