The New Student's Reference Work/Musset, Alfred de

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Musset (mü′ sā́′), Alfred de, was born at Paris, Nov. 11, 1810, the son of an officer in the war-office.  At 19 he published his Tales of Spain and Italy, a volume of unequal verse.  In 1833 appeared two of his greatest works, the tragical comedies, André del Sarto and Marianne’s Caprices.  Next followed the famous poem of Rolla.  He always was as unsteady in character as in genius, and the feverish activity that sometimes seized him spent itself in splendid plans and unfinished poems.  In 1840 his health broke down, and he wrote but little.  As Heine said, he was “a young man with a splendid past;” he felt himself an old man at 30.  The success of his play, A Caprice, in 1847, put life into him for a short time.  He died at Paris of heart-disease, May 1, 1857.  The Night of May and The Night of October are perfect and undying lyrics.  As a poet of passion he comes close to Byron in power.  His plays have not their equals in 19th-century literature for originality, wit and real dramatic genius.  His largest prose-work was the famous Confession of a Child of the Age; but greater are his short stories and tales, as Emmeline, Pierre and Camille, Mademoiselle Mimi Pinson and Margot.  De Musset’s whole work fills but ten small volumes, but they include some of the finest poetry, greatest plays and best short stories in French literature.