This is a rather unsuccessful attempt to make a modern psychological study of the life of the poet, Alfred de Musset. It does not add much to the well known facts: that de Musset was the handsome, spoiled pet of his mother and brother; that he had an unforgettable love affair in Venice with George Sand; that later he became the ""enfant terrible"" of Paris, a libertine and an alcoholic. His character is so deeply neurotic, so deeply split between good and evil that he could never integrate his life, except in poetry of drink. Nevertheless he charmed the best minds of his day, Prosper Merimee, Saint-Beuve and the actress Rachel. Not as forceful as Byron, nor as isolated as Proust, de Musset reminds us of both. There is material here for a penetrating socio-psychological biography, but unfortunately the author lets the opportunity slip through her hands by sheer lack of literary skill and style.