[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Eugène Sue (1804 - 1857)

Related: 1804 - 1857

Related: dandy - 1800s literature - mystery fiction - dime novel - popular fiction - serials in fiction - French literature

Tout le monde a dévoré Les 'Mystères de Paris' même les gens qui ne savent pas lire : ceux-là se les font réciter par quelque portier érudit et de bonne volonté. --Théophile Gautier

Eng: Everyone devoured The Mysteries of Paris, even the people who were unable to read: they had it recited to them by anyone kind and educated enough to do so. --Théophile Gautier (translation mine)

Many of the novels in this period (including Eugène Sue's and Balzac's) were published in newspapers in serial form, and the immensely popular realist "roman feuilleton" tended to specialize in portraying the hidden side of urban life (crime, police spies, criminal slang). [May 2006]

The Mysteries of Paris inspired Karl Marx's only text concerning literature. It was published as part of the polemical The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism (1845). Marx’s views of the book were not favourable - "it is to be noted incidentally that Eugène Sue motivates the career of the Countess just as stupidly as that of most of his characters". [May 2006]


Joseph Marie Eugène Sue (January 20, 1804–August 3, 1857), French novelist, was born in Paris.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%E8ne_Sue [Feb 2005]

Influenced by socialism

Eugène Sue was strongly affected by the Socialist ideas of the day, and these prompted his most famous works: Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) and Le Juif errant (translated, ""The Wandering Jew"") (10 vols., 1844-1845), which were among the most popular specimens of the roman-feuilleton. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%E8ne_Sue [Feb 2005]

Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) - Eugène Sue

Les Mystères de Paris (10 vols., 1842-1843) - Eugène Sue (origally it was a serialized novel, pictured here is a 1962 French film adaptation.)

Les Mystères de Paris is a French language novel by Eugène Sue (1804-1857) which was published serially in Journal des Débats from June 19, 1842 until October 15, 1843. Les Mystères de Paris single-handedly increased the circulation of Journal des Débats.

There has been lots of talk on the origins of the French novel of the 19th century: Stendhal, Balzac, Dumas, Gautier, Sand or Hugo. One often forgets Eugène Sue. Still, The Mysteries of Paris occupies a unique space in the birth of this literary genre: not only is it a stream of consciousness novel which entranced thousands of readers for more than a year (even illiterates who had episodes read to them), it is also a major work in the formation of a certain form of social consciousness. One often hears that the 1848 revolution was partly born in the pages of the Mysteries of Paris or, more appropriately, that the Mysteries of Paris helped create a climate which allowed the 1848 revolution to occur.

The novel was made into a feature film several times, most notably in 1962 as Les Mystères de Paris, a French film by André Hunebelle, starring Jean Marais. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Myst%C3%A8res_de_Paris [May 2006]

Mysteries of Paris (1842-1843) - Eugène Sue

The Mysteries of Paris is realistically set in the criminal milieu of Paris. This was the overcrowded pre-commune, pre-Haussmann Paris.

I present you with two different translations of the opening paragraph of the first volume:

"A returned convict, who, in this foul phraseology, is called an 'ogre,' or a woman in the same degraded state, who is termed an 'ogress,' generally keep such 'cribs,' frequented by the refuse of the Parisian population; freed felons, thieves, and assassins are there familiar guests" --http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/thenardier/authors/definition.html [Dec 2006]

Towards the end of October 1838, on a cold and rainy night, an athletically built man with an old broad-brimmed straw hat on his head and wearing ragged fatigues of blue canvas, crossed the Pont au Change and dove into the Cité, that maze of gloomy, narrow, twisting streets which extends from the Palais de Justice to Notre Dame.

Though tightly enclosed and kept under surveillance, this quarter is nevertheless the haunt, the sanctuary of a great number of Paris criminals who crowd the tapis-francs. A tapis-franc, in the argot of theft and murder, means a dive of the worst sort. A returned convict, who in this filthy language is called an ogre, or a woman of the same degraded state, called an ogress, generally keeps such a tavern, frequented by the refuse of Paris. Convicts, thieves, cutthroats abound there... When a crime is committed the police cast, so to say, their net into these sewers and almost always catch those at fault. --http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1557830

Stephen King and Eugène Sue

The previous post which mentions Sue got me thinking about Stephen King. Sue was one of the most popular novelists of the 19th century, yet he is now forgotten. King is one of the more popular novelists of the 20th century (according to the Index Translationum he is currently the 10th most popular novelist). Will his work be forgotten 100 years from now? Googling for "Stephen King" and "Eugéne Sue" brings up this quote on the best literature site on the net: Kirjasto:

Thomas M. Disch has noted that "readers of such current melodramatists as Stephen King or Anne Rice ought to be highly receptive to Sue's grand excesses" (Horror: The 100 Best Books, ed. by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, 1988). --http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/esue.htm [Dec 2006]

Even if Anne Rice or Stephen King are forgotten in 100 years, horror fiction does not need 'great' writers to survive. Horror is perpetually re-written. Horror and sex are at the center of the death-of-the-author-theories. Just as Faust was a reproduction of Don Juan, the writings of King and Rice are reproductions of The Mysteries of Paris and Dracula. Such is the nature of intertextualness. What some people perceive to be "great literature" is often no more than fanboyism and fashion. [Dec 2006]

P. S. Doing the same search "Stephen King" and "Eugéne Sue" brings up Dumas and John Grisham. The context is the serial novel as it was published in two Parisian cheap, advertising-based newspapers in 1830s France: La Presse and Le Siècle. "There was serious money to be made: the papers would pay up to 100,000 francs for the exclusive rights to a novel by a top-ranking author. The most popular and highly regarded of these were not necessarily writers who have held on to their places in the literary Pantheon: who now reads (or has even heard of) Frédéric Soulié or Eugène Sue?"

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications