Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Paul-Henri-Corentin Féval

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From volume 6 of the work.

Novelist, b. at Rennes, 27 September, 1817; d. in Paris, 8 March 1887. He belonged to an old family of barristers, and his parents wished him to follow the family traditions. He received his secondary instruction at the lycée of Rennes and studied law at the university of the same city. He was admitted to the bar at the age of nineteen, but the loss of first case disgusted him with the practice of law, and he went to Paris, where he secured a position as a bank clerk. His fondness for reading which caused him to neglect his professional duties, led to his dismissal a few months later. He is next found in the service of an advertising concern, then then on the staff of an obscure Parisian paper, and finally as proof-reader in the offices of "Le Nouvelliste." He had already begun to write. A short story, "Le club des Phoques", which he published in "La Revue de Paris", in 1841, attracted attention and opened to Féval the columns of the most important Parisian newspapers. In 1844, under the pseudonym of Francis Trolopp, he wrote "Les mystères de Londres", which had great success and was translated into several languages. From this time on he hardly ever censed writing, sometimes publishing as many as four novels at a time. Some of them he also tried to adapt for stage but, with the exception of "Le Bossu" which had played many times, his ventures in that direction were unsuccessful. Féval's writings had not always been in conformity with the teachings of the Church. In the early seventies he sincerely returned to his early belief, and between 1877 and 1882 published a revised edition of all his books. He also wrote some new works which show the change. His incessant labour and the financial reverses he had suffered told on his constitution; he was stricken with paralysis. The Société des Gens de Letteres, of which he was the president, had him placed in the home of Les Frères de Jean de Dieu, where he died.

Most of Féval's novels are romantic; in fact he may be considered as the best imitator of the elder Dumas; his fecundity, his imagination, and his power of interesting the reader rival those of his great predecessor; the style, however, too often betrays the haste in which his novels were written. The list of his works is a very long one; the best known besides those already mentioned are: "Etapes d' une conversion" (Paris, 1877); "Merveilles du Mont-Saint-Michael" (Paris, 1879).

Pierre Marique.