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Heath's Modern Language Series: La Mère de la Marquise   By: (1828-1885)

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Heath's Modern Language Series

LA MÈRE DE LA MARQUISE

PAR

EDMOND ABOUT

EDITED WITH NOTES AND VOCABULARY

BY

MURRAY PEABODY BRUSH, PH.D.

WHILE PROFESSOR OF FRENCH, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS

BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO

COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY D. C. HEATH & CO.

INTRODUCTION

Edmond François Valentin About, the author of the accompanying story, was born at Dieuze, in Lorraine, on February 14, 1828. He followed the course of the French schools and in time was graduated from the École normale , whence his taste for classical studies led him to the French school at Athens. In 1853, About returned to Paris and began to write for the newspapers, especially for the Moniteur , Figaro , and Soir , and shortly after, in 1855, he published La Grèce contemporaine , a bright, though hardly just satire on the manners and customs of the people he had just left.

In the same year appeared About's first novel, Tolla , and although forced to withstand the accusation of plagiarism in this work, the following decade was the most fruitful of our author's life, the period in which he produced almost all of the novels and stories to which he owes his fame. The chief of these works are: Le Roi des Montagnes , 1856; Les Mariages de Paris , 1856; Germaine , 1857; Trente et Quarante , 1858; L'Homme à l'Oreille cassé , 1861; Le Nez d'un Notaire , 1862; Le Cas de M. Guérin , 1862; and Madelon , 1863. Le Roman d'un brave Homme did not appear until 1880. During these years About also tried the dramatic field, but without success.

In the meantime the emperor, Napoleon the Third, had learned to appreciate this quick and ready pen and was beginning to make large use of it for political purposes. The resulting newspaper articles in support of the government very soon made their author a favorite at court and he was, furthermore, liberally rewarded and encouraged in his work.

At this age About had no deep political sympathies, he supported the imperial policy because he was well paid for his writings, but in 1870 the mismanagement of the Franco Prussian war opened his eyes to the shortcomings and deficiencies of the Bonapartist government and he became an ardent Republican. He lost no time in giving up his literary work that he might devote his whole energy to journalism in the endeavor to advance the cause of his party, and in company with Francisque Sarcey he founded the republican journal, Le XIXe Siècle . Already under the empire About had been a violent anti clerical, having published as early as 1859 La Question romaine , against Romish influence in France, and he now turned his particular attention to combatting the Church of Rome in its relation to the republican government.

In 1884, Edmond About was elected to the Academy, but before he could be formally installed death overtook him, on January 17, 1885.

The characteristics of About's literary style appear as clearly in La Mère de la Marquise , which is included in Les Mariages de Paris , as in any of the author's longer works; we may briefly enumerate these characteristics as facility and variety of expression, a ready wit, a large and varied vocabulary, and the ability to sketch characters in a few, bold strokes. About's stories are written to entertain, they are bright and wholesome, they tell an interesting story in a straightforward manner, and beneath all is just enough serious satire to lend a pleasing proportion and balance to the whole.

In preparing this edition of La Mère de la Marquise the editor has sought to present a text, with vocabulary, suitable for students of French in the second year of the high school course or in the first year at college. The story itself has been chosen on account of its quick action, the graceful and witty turn of the phrases, the easy, colloquial style, and the entire freedom from coarseness. The text is that of the last edition of Les Mariages de Paris , Paris, 1899; it is reproduced with the omission of only a very few extracts hardly suited to the class room... Continue reading book >>




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