The Confession of a Child of the Century

The Confession of a Child of the Century

Paperback Penguin Classics

By (author) Alfred De Musset

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  • Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 18mm | 236g
  • Publication date: 25 March 2014
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0141391855
  • ISBN 13: 9780141391854
  • Sales rank: 678,574

Product description

Recently made into a film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pete Doherty and Lily Cole, this French novel of love and betrayal is now available in a new English translation for the first time in over a hundred years. Inspired by his scandalous real-life affair with the flamboyant woman who called herself George Sand, Alfred de Musset's Confession is a searingly honest, passionate account of a young man's rite of passage. It tells the story of Octave, desperate to be more than an 'average man', who searches for happiness first as a debauched libertine, until his mistress Elise is unfaithful, and then in an austere life in the countryside, where he falls in love with the selfless Brigitte. But as he becomes consumed by insane jealousy and convinced that Brigitte will betray him, Octave brings about his own destruction. A vivid, opulent portrayal of obsession and despair, this is also a philosophical portrait of a man and his times, expressing the failed idealism of the Romantic generation of the early nineteenth century. David Coward's vibrant translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing de Musset's affair with Sand and his work's place in the confessional genre. This edition contains a chronology, notes and further reading.

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Author information

Alfred de Musset was born in 1810 in Paris. He attempted careers in medicine, law and drawing before publishing his first collection of poems, Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1829). He subsequently wrote numerous plays, and the erotic novel Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess (1833) is sometimes attributed to him. From 1833 to 1835, he had an affair with the novelist George Sand, which became the basis for his most famous novel La Confession d'un Enfant du Siecle (1836). Sand herself also fictionalized the affair in her novel Elle et lui. Musset died in 1857 and was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. David Coward is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Leeds. He won a Scott-Moncrieff prize for his edition of Albert Cohen's Belle du Seigneur, and has also translated Moliere for Penguin Classics.

Review quote

Confession of a Child of the Century is not only a searingly honest self-portrait but a portrait of a whole generation...Musset's self-lashing memoir is a defence of human and spiritual values to which he could only aspire. He never reformed and never again wrote anything as good -- David Coward