Friday, August 11, 2017

Born Today August 11: Octave Feuillet


French writer Octave Feuillet was born on this day in St. Lô, France (located in Normandy).  His father was a very prominent lawyer and was the Secretary-General of La Manche, but was quite hypersensitive to any sort of stress.  Since Feuillet's mother died when he was an infant, his father's fits of invalid sensitivity no doubt influenced him as a youngster (in truth, we would recognize many of his father's symptoms today as probably bi-polar).  It didn't help that Feuillet inhereited some of these difficulties from his father, though reportedly, no where to the degree of the elder Feuillet.  With grand thoughts of shaping his young son's career path, Octave was sent off to study in Paris, with the notion that he would go into diplomatic service.  Though he greatly excelled in his studies and earned high marks, he wanted to become, instead, a writer.  When he informed his father of his chosen path, he was promptly disowned.  Octave returned to Paris and lived hand to mouth as a struggling young journalist.  When his father's health began to decline he was summed back to his birthplace in Saint-Lô--against his will.  Being an obedient son, he went--but he always referred to his this time in his life as exile.  While there he married a cousin in 1851, who was also a writer.  Ironically, the situation elicited from him some of his best work.  In 1852 along, he produced two of his most important works for publication: a novel Bellah and, ironically, a comedic play La Crise.  The situation, though, basically caused him to have nervous breakdown, and his wife and mother-in-law were the only to people keeping him from total collapse.  After this, though weak from his "exile," he returned to Paris to oversee to stage production of play that he adapted from one of his own novels.  After the death of his father while he was in Paris, his whole family moved to the city, and happier times ensued.  By 1968 he was made librarian of Fontainebleau palace; however by 1862, upon the death of his eldest son, his own health and mental state had been in decline.  By the time he was made librarian, he decided that he could no longer tolerate Paris and left for the Normandy countryside, where he purchased a house and started as rose garden that would become locally famous.  He spent  most of the rest of his life tending it.  His mental health though deteriorated to the point where he sold the house, and spent the last lonely years of his life wandering about in Paris, though he was able to finish one last work, a novel Honneur d'artiste, published the year of his death.  He died in Paris on the 29th  of December 1890 at the age of 69.  There is no information as to his burial.  His writing has been described as "Romantic Realism."  The first film made using his work as source material came in 1913 with the French production Le roman d'un jeune homme pauvre--produced by Pathé Frères.  The English langauge film made from his work came the next year with The Romance Of A Poor Young Man, made by Biograph (based on that same work).  In all, 11 films utilizing his work were made during the silent era, with the last of these  dating from 1927 and was a remake of the original film from 1913.  The first film produced in the sound era came in 1932 with A Parisian Romance made here in the United States.  The most recent use of his work came in the form of a French broadcast television series Les amours de la belle époque in 1980 in an episode again devoted to his novel Le roman d'un jeune homme pauvre.

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