Octave Mirbeau : Anarchist Novelist, Playwright, Journalist, and Pamphleteer from France

Revolt Library >> People >> Mirbeau, Octave

(1848 - 1917)

Description

By 1890 his political commitments were clearer: he showed a clear preference for the anarchist left, and became friends with Jean Grave and Camille Pissarro. He wrote at length on Impressionism, believing it to be the beginning of a cultural revolution in France.

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From : Sharif Gemie Bio

Quotes

"The press is mistaken. There are certain corpses that walk again, and certain voices that won't be stifled. And the void is filled with terrible enigmas."

From : "Ravachol," by by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau

"I am horrified by the bloodshed, the ruins, and the death; I love life, and all life is sacred to me. This is why I'm going to ask for the anarchist ideal which no form of government can create: love, beauty, and peace between men. Ravachol [the Anarchist bombthrower] doesn't frighten me. He is as transient as the terror he inspires. He is the thunder clap that is followed by the glory of the sun and the calm sky."

From : "Ravachol," by by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau

"...each turn of the government machinery grinds the tumbling, gasping flesh of the poor..."

From : "Ravachol," by by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau

"Capitalism is insatiable, and the wage system compounds the evils of ancient slavery. The shops are packed full of clothing, and there are those who go about completely naked; the indifferent rich are puking up food, while others perish from hunger in their doorways. No cry is heeded: whenever a single, louder complaint penetrates the din of sad murmurs, the Lebels is loaded and the troops are mobilized."

From : "Ravachol," by by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau

"The patience of the downtrodden and the dispossessed has lasted long enough. They want to live, they want to enjoy, they want their share of all the happiness and sunshine."

From : "Ravachol," by by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau

Biography


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About Octave Mirbeau

 Octave Mirbeau 1

Octave Mirbeau 1

Introducing Mirbeau(1848-1917)
By Sharif Gemie.

1998 is the 105th anniversary of Octave Mirbeau's birth. I have been asked by Ronald Creagh to write a few paragraphs explaining his significance.

Mirbeau was an enormously productive writer, journalist and activist in late nineteenth and early twentieth century France. His politics were constantly evolving, and it is difficult to pin him down to a single political commitment. As a teenager in the 1860s he was an anti-clerical Republican; in the 1870s and early 1880s he worked as a journalist for the right-wing, particularly Bonapartist, press. During this period he wrote a number of openly anti-semitic and misogynist pieces. Then, in the mid-1880s, he had a dramatic change of heart, rejected the far right, condemned the Boulangist movement, and moved initially to a loosely defined Republican left. By 1890 his political commitments were clearer: he showed a clear preference for the anarchist left, and became friends with Jean Grave and Camille Pissarro. He wrote at length on Impressionism, believing it to be the beginning of a cultural revolution in France.

Despite his increasing physical frailty in the late 1890s, he toured the country trying to rally support for the Dreyfusard cause. In the 1900s he grew disillusioned. He worked with Jaures *Humanite*, but was skeptical about the future of parliamentary socialism. During the First World War he did not support the war effort, but was reluctant to condemn it while French troops were being killed.

During his life he wrote an extraordinary variety of pieces, including: plays, full length novels, travel-writing, political polemics, short stories, reviews of books, music, art and theater. Many of his shorter works were translated. His two best-known works are *Le Jardin des supplices* [the Torture Garden] and *Le Journal d un femme de chambre* [the Diary of Chambermaid], later to made into a film by Bunuel. One could say that these two works indicate the two sides of his personality: *Le Jardin des Supplices* being a pessimistic, over-lyrical, quasi-erotic novel, probably intended as an extended metaphorical representation of the Dreyfus Affair, while the *Le Journal d une femme de chambre* reveals a warm, humanism, sensitive and understanding of the fate of the powerless in French society.

The best French-language work on him is Jean-Francois Nivet and Pierre Michel, Octave Mirbeau; l Imprecateur au coeur fidele (Paris, 1990); the best English-language work is Reg Carr, Anarchism in France; the Case of Octave Mirbeau (Manchester, 1977).

From : "Introducing Mirbeau (1848-19917)," by Sharif Gemie, from Anarchy Archives

Works

This person has authored 8 documents, with 12,927 words or 77,481 characters.

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1885 ~ (1,753 Words / 10,202 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "L'Enfant" originally appeared in the Paris periodical La France on October 21, 1885. Motteau gave his testimony as follows: "There you have it, your honor. You've listened to all these people --my good neighbors and my good friends. They haven't cut me any slack, and that's fair enough. They felt uncomfortable as long as I was in Boulaie... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1887 ~ (1,625 Words / 9,660 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "Avant L'Enterrement" first appeared in the Paris newspaper Gil Blas on April 19, 1887 Mr. Poivret got down from his wagon in front of the shop owned by his son-in-law Pierre Gasselin, tied the horse to a thick iron ring and, after three times checking the tightness of the tether's knot, he entered the butcher shop cracking his horse-whip. "Anyone there?" he yelled. A dog, sleeping with its body stretched across a sunny patch of floor, got up with a low groan and then laid itself out a little farther out of the way. The store was deserted, and since it was Thursday, the meat rack was pretty close to empty. A quarter of nearly black beef lay on the block, covered with flies, and a lamb's heart, split down the middle, was hanging from the ceiling on one of the movable hooks. In a corner, in the bottom of a copper basin, some bloody bones and heaps of yellowing gre... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- (1,987 Words / 11,953 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "La Mort du Chien" originally appeared in the monarchist paper Le Galois under the pen name Henry Lys on August 23, 1884, about a year before the author's conversion to anarchism. Although most of Mirbeau's work remains untranslated, he is now regarded by French critics as one of the most important writers of his period, and his 1903 play Business is Business made a triumphant return to the Paris stage in 1995. He is best known to anglophone posterity for his novels The Torture Garden and Diary of a Chambermaid . His master called him Turk. He was thin, yellow, and sad, with a pointed snout, a small build, and short, badly cropped ears that were always bleeding. The tail he wore on his rump looked like a scabby question mark. In the summertime, Turk went into the fields to guard the cattle, and into the roads to chase passersby who de... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1885 ~ (1,154 Words / 7,109 Characters)
Translated by Robert Helms "Des ilections" first appeared in La France (Paris), Aug.12, 1885. What's going to happen? Where will we flee? Already the election campaigns are infected by a terrible leprosy. The cabarets roar, rolling over with drunken eyes. Looming above the intersections, the red, blue, and yellow posters explode across the walls of solitary houses. The peasants hurry to gather their wheat and oats before the political whirlwind blows in, like a devastating sirocco. The bad smell of spilled wine is hanging in the air, and the deafening clamor of committees comes from everywhere, left, right, and center, calling for an encore, and marking time on the bass drum of alcoholic frenzy. People walk by, cross themselves, don't recognize each other, and see each other as enemies. In all eyes there is a challenge, on every lip a bitterness, and a threat is carried in every fist. A silent war has flared up in th... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1885 ~ (1,668 Words / 10,295 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "La Justice de Paix" first appeared in La France on July 24, 1885, and was later anthologized in Lettres de ma Chaumiere, dedicated to Guy de Maupassant. The Justice of the Peace occupied a ground floor hearing room in the village's town hall that looked out onto the square. The stark, tiled room was divided in the middle by a sort of railing made of wh... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- (1,334 Words / 8,248 Characters)
Translated and introduced by Robert Helms Francois-Claudius Koeningstein (Oct. 14, 1859 -- July 11, 1892), known to posterity as Ravachol, was born to Dutch and French parents at Saint-Chamond, near St. Etienne in Eastern France. He was angered by two actions taken by the French government on May 1, 1891. One was at Fourmies, where the newly designed Lebels machine gun was used against a peaceful May Day rally at which women and children were carrying flowers and palms. Casualties there numbered 14 dead and 40 wounded. The other incident was at Clichy, where police attacked a six-man anarchist labor rally. The workers defended themselves with pistol-shots and were subsequently given long terms at hard labor. Ravachol took retribution for the Clichy defendants by bombing the homes of the presiding judge (Mar. 11, 1892) and the prosecutor (Mar. 27, 1892). During the same month he bombed the Lobau Barracks in Paris in response to the Army's sla... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1890 ~ (1,819 Words / 11,032 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "L'Oiseau Sacri" first appeared in the literary supplement of the Paris anarchist paper La Rivolte #3 (Sept. 27, 1890), reprinted from L'Echo de Paris. A few leagues from my cottage, in one of the most fertile areas in France, there lies a certain immense property. For only the past ten years the place has belonged to a well-known banker, but it isn't used for hunting parties. The chateau was partly demolished during the first revolution. Nothing remains of it but an uncrowned brick tower and some charred walls that invade the weeds, which grow into trees, and the moss. The banker considered rebuilding it according to its original design, but then abandoned the idea because of the expense involved. He already had an historic estate near Paris that sufficiently accommodated his pride. But here the beautiful and well-preserved outbuildings have been converted into residences, and they mak... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Anarchism : Anarchist and Anti-Authoritarianism -- 1894 ~ (1,587 Words / 8,982 Characters)
Translated from the French by Robert Helms "Le Mur" first appeared in L'Echo de Paris on February 20, 1894 Old man Rivoli had a wall. This wall ran along a road, and it was crumbling badly. The rains and the road mender's pickax had undermined the base. The stones, having come loose, hardly held together any longer, and cracks were opening up. It was beautiful, however, having the look of an ancient ruin. Some irises crowned the top, while figworts, maidenhair, and houseleeks pushed their way through the fissures. Some poppies, too, paraded their frail bodies between cracks in the rubble-stones. But Pop Rivoli was not sensitive to the poetry of his wall, and, after examining it at length, and jiggling some of its loose stones like teeth in the jaws of a poor man, he finally decided to repair it. He had no need of a mason because he had done every job under the sun during his life. He knew how to mix up the mortar just as he knew how to plane down... (From : Mid-Atlantic Infoshop.)

Chronology

February 16, 1848 :
Birth Day.

February 16, 1917 :
Death Day.

November 15, 2016 ; 5:26:39 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

April 21, 2019 ; 5:03:31 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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