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Mirbeau, Octave Henri Marie

MIRBEAU, OCTAVE HENRI MARIE (1850- ), French dramatist and journalist, was born at Trevieres (Calvados) on the 16th of February 1850. He was educated in a Jesuit school at Vannes, and studied law in Paris. He began his journalistic career as dramatic critic of the Bonapartist paper, L'Ordre. For a short time before 1877 he was sous-prefet and then prefet of Saint-Girons, but from that time he devoted himself to literature. He was one of the earliest defenders of the Impressionist painters. His witty articles in the antirepublican papers, and his attacks on established reputations, involved him in more than one duel. He gradually developed extreme individualist views. In 1890 he began to write for the Revoke, but his anarchist sympathies were definitely checked by the murder of President Carnot in 1894. He was one of the early and consistent defenders of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. He married in 1887 the actress Alice Regnault. His first novel, Jean Marcellin (1885), attracted little attention, but he made his mark as a conteur with a series of tales of the Norman peasantry, Lettres de ma chaumiere (1886). Le Cahaire (1887), a chapter of which on the defeat of 1870 aroused much discussion, was followed by L'Abbe Jules (1888), the story of a mad priest; by Sebastien Roch (1890), a bitter picture of the Jesuit school in which his own early years were spent ; Le Jardin des supplices (1899), a Chinese story; Les Memoir es d'une femme de chambre (1901); and Les Vingt-et-un jours d'un neurasthenique (1902). In 1897 his five-act piece, Les Mauvais Bergers, was played at the Renaissance by Sarah Bernhardt, and he followed this up with Les Affaires sont les affaires (Theatre Francais, 1903), which was adapted by Sydney Grundy for Sir H. Beerbohm Tree in 1905. Some of his short pieces are collected as Farces et moralites (1904).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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