THE YOUNG ROMANTICS: Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Vigny, Dumas, Musset and George Sand, and Their Relationships, Feuds and Loves in the French Revolution by Linda Kelly

THE YOUNG ROMANTICS: Victor Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Vigny, Dumas, Musset and George Sand, and Their Relationships, Feuds and Loves in the French Revolution

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The ""revolution"" in question is the French Romantic revolution--more precisely, some ten years in the fortunes of the brilliant circle (""le CÉnacle"") that grew up around Hugo and Sainte-Beuve in the late 1820s. The decade saw the great and stormy flowering of Romantic drama, ushered in by the sudden dawning of Shakespeare upon the French consciousness after an English troupe's triumphant visit in 1827. While Romantic tragedy gained the ascendancy on Parisian stages, the new generation of literary lions went through a sort of mass honeymoon (""Since we have all become geniuses, talent has become exceptionally rare,"" remarked a disenchanted CÉnacle veteran) followed by convoluted liaisons, rivalries, and fallings-out. The shy and gauche Sainte-Beuve worshiped Hugo's wife from afar and then less than afar; Vigny nursed intermittent jealousy of Hugo's success and of his mistress Marie Dorval's relationship with George Sand (""this Lesbian who pesters her""); Hugo embarked on a lifelong affair with the actress Juliette Drouet while becoming the target of Sainte-Beuve's increasingly hostile criticisms in the Revue des Deux Mondes; Musset careened briefly and tempestuously around George Sand. Kelly, who became interested in these interwoven destinies while working on a biography of Thomas Chatterton (subject of Vigny's tremendously successful tragedy), has culled memoirs and letters to produce a deft, understated narrative which ought to give a lot of people a lot of quietly literate pleasure.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 1976
Publisher: Random House