(Abbe Jules, first published in 1888, is the second part o...)
Abbe Jules, first published in 1888, is the second part of Octave Mirbeau's autobiographical trilogy and tells the story of a priest's lifelong struggle with his passions. Narrated from the viewpoint of a small boy, it depicts the stifling atmosphere of petit bourgeois, provincial France, where family, education and religion conspire to produce individuals tortured by repressed desire, violent fantasies and forbidden lusts. Innocence is corrupted, pity and pain are inextricably linked in a novel which shows the influence of Naturalism, in its brutally realistic descriptions which echo Zola and Flaubert, side by side with passages of great lyricism and sensuality, as Mirbeau exercises the impressionist skills of Monet and Van Gogh. 'To see Mirbeau at his best one should turn to his second novel Abbe Jules.' Peter Fawcett in The Times Literary Supplement
Mirbeau studied at a Jesuit college in Vannes, which expelled him at the age of fifteen.
His first work was as a journalist for Bonapartist and Royalist newspapers. He made his reputation as a storyteller with tales of the Norman peasantry, Lettres de ma chaumière (1886; "Letters from My Cottage") and Le Calvaire (1887; "The Calvary"), a chapter of which, on the French defeat of 1870, aroused much rancour. In 1888 he wrote the story of a mad priest, L’Abbé Jules ("The Priest Jules"), and, in 1890, Sébastien Roch, a merciless picture of the Jesuit school he had attended. All his novels, from Le Jardin des supplices (1899; "The Garden of Torture") and Le Journal d’une femme de chambre (1900; "Journal of a Lady’s Maid") to La 628-E8 (1907) and Dingo (1913), were bitter social satires.
His dramatic work was of high quality, and Les Mauvais Bergers (1897; "The Bad Shepherds") was compared to the work of Henry Becque. His greatest success as a playwright was achieved with Les Affaires sont les affaires (1903; "Business Is Business").
Although his early works show evidence of anti-Semitism, Mirbeau in the 1890s became an outspoken supporter of French army officer Alfred Dreyfus during the Dreyfus Affair.
Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau died on February 16, 1917.
"The greatest danger of a terrorist's bomb is in the explosion of stupidity that it provokes. "
"To take something from a person and keep it for oneself: that is robbery. To take something from one person and then turn it over to another in exchange for as much money as you can get: that is business. Robbery is so much more stupid, since it is satisfied with a single, frequently dangerous profit; whereas in business it can be doubled without danger. "
Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau was a member of the Académie Goncourt, founded in 1903.
In 1887, Octave Mirbeau married Alice Regnault.