The first among French literary figures during a period well-populated with talent, France is very much out of vogue, though Thais and Penguin Island have joined the paperback lists, while exegeses of Proust and memoirs of the Paris '90's abound in references to him. This is the first biography to come from a non-academic press since the '30's. It is unlikely to spark a revival of Francophilia. The author's enthusiasm for minor details is less than infectious. And the novels never come across. The 1848 revolution, the Paris Commune, the Dreyfus case, the World War fail alike to animate the narrative, though France's left-wing conversion and apostasy provide some interesting passages. Meanwhile his friendships and affairs, whose piquancy has been conveyed by other, briefer chroniclers, wind dully along. Tylden-Wright's assiduous but pedestrian scholarship does not do justice to the satirical wit and exemplary style of the associate of Verlaine and de Lisle, the French Academician who supported the Russian Revolution, the lover of one of the great salon-keepers of the day. Tant pis.