Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly

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Barbey d'Aurevilly
Portrait by Émile Lévy, 1882
Born Jules Amédée Barbey
(1808-11-02)November 2, 1808
Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, Normandy, France
Died April 23, 1889(1889-04-23) (aged 80)
Paris, France
Resting place Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte
Occupation Novelist, essayist, critic
Nationality French
Period 1825–1889
Literary movement Realism, Decadence, "Dandyism"


Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly (2 November 1808 – 23 April 1889) was a French novelist and short story writer. He specialised in mystery tales that explored hidden motivation and hinted at evil without being explicitly concerned with anything supernatural. He had a decisive influence on writers such as Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Henry James and Marcel Proust.


Jules-Amédée Barbey — the d'Aurevilly was a later inheritance from a childless uncle — was born at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, Manche in Lower Normandy. In 1827 he went to the Collège Stanislas de Paris. After getting his baccalauréat in 1829, he went to Caen University to study law, taking his degree three years later. As a young man, he was a liberal and an atheist,[1] and his early writings present religion as something that meddles in human affairs only to complicate and pervert matters.[2][3] In the early 1840s, however, he began to frequent the Catholic and legitimist salon of Baroness Amaury de Maistre, niece of Joseph de Maistre. In 1846 he converted to Roman Catholicism.

His greatest successes as a literary writer date from 1852 onwards, when he became an influential literary critic at the Bonapartist paper Le Pays, helping to rehabilitate Balzac and effectually promoting Stendhal, Flaubert, and Baudelaire. Paul Bourget describes Barbey as an idealist, who sought and found in his work a refuge from the uncongenial ordinary world. Jules Lemaître, a less sympathetic critic, thought the extraordinary crimes of his heroes and heroines, his reactionary opinions, his dandyism and snobbery were a caricature of Byronism.

Beloved of fin-de-siècle decadents, Barbey d'Aurevilly remains an example of the extremes of late romanticism. Barbey d'Aurevilly held traditional Catholic opinions,[4][5] yet wrote about risqué subjects, a contradiction apparently more disturbing to the English than to the French themselves. Barbey d'Aurevilly was also known as a dandy artisan of his own persona, adopting an aristocratic style and hinting at a mysterious past, though his parentage was provincial bourgeois nobility, and his youth comparatively uneventful.

Inspired by the character and ambience of Valognes, he set his works in the society of Normand aristocracy. Although he himself did not use the Norman patois, his example encouraged the revival of vernacular literature in his home region.

Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly died in Paris and was buried in the cimetière de Montparnasse. During 1926 his remains were transferred to the churchyard in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.



  • Le Cachet d’Onyx (1831).
  • Léa (1832).
  • L'Amour Impossible (1841).
  • La Bague d’Annibal (1842).
  • Une vieille maîtresse (A Former Mistress, 1851)[nb 1]
  • L'Ensorcelée (The Bewitched, 1852; an episode of the royalist rising among the Norman peasants against the first republic).
  • Le Chevalier Des Touches (1863)
  • Un Prêtre Marié (1864)
  • Les Diaboliques (The She-Devils, 1874; a collection of short stories, each of which relates a tale of a woman who commits an act of violence or revenge, or other crime).
  • Une Histoire sans Nom (The Story Without a Name, 1882).
  • Ce qui ne Meurt Pas (What Never Dies, 1884).

Essays and criticism

  • Du Dandysme et de Georges Brummel (The Anatomy of Dandyism, 1845).
  • Les Prophètes du Passé (1851).
  • Les Oeuvres et les Hommes (1860–1909).
  • Les Quarante Médaillons de l'Académie (1864).
  • Les Ridicules du Temps (1883).
  • Pensées Détachées (1889).
  • Fragments sur les Femmes (1889).
  • Polémiques d'hier (1889).
  • Dernières Polémiques (1891).
  • Goethe et Diderot (1913).
  • L'Europe des Écrivains (2000).
  • Le Traité de la Princesse ou la Princesse Maltraitée (2012).


  • Ode aux Héros des Thermopyles (1825).
  • Poussières (1854).
  • Amaïdée (1889).
  • Rythmes Oubliés (1897).

Translated into English

  • The Story without a Name. New York: Belford and Co. (1891; translated by Edgar Saltus).
    • The Story without a Name. New York: Brentano's (1919).
  • Of Dandyism and of George Brummell. London: J.M. Dent (1897; translated by Douglas Ainslie).
    • Dandyism. New York: PAJ Publications (1988).
  • Weird Women: Being a Literal Translation of "Les Diaboliques". London and Paris: Lutetian Bibliophiles' Society (2 vols., 1900).
    • The Diaboliques. New York: A.A. Knopf (1925; translated by Ernest Boyd).[nb 2]
    • "Happiness in Crime." In: Shocking Tales. New York: A.A. Wyn Publisher (1946).
    • The She-devils. London: Oxford University Press (1964; translated by Jean Kimber).
    • Diaboliques: Six Tales of Decadence. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press (2015; translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie)
  • What Never Dies: A Romance. New York: A.R. Keller (1907, translated by Oscar Wilde, as "Sebastian Melmoth").
    • What Never Dies: A Romance. London: The Fortune Press (1933).
  • Bewitched. New York and London: Harper & Brothers (1928, translated by Louise Collier Willcox).

His complete works are published in two volumes of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade.


  • "Next to the wound, what women make best is the bandage."[6]
  • "The mortal envelope of the Middle Age has disappeared, but the essential remains. Because the temporal disguise has fallen, the dupes of history and of its dates say that the Middle Age is dead. Does one die for changing his shirt?"[7]
  • "In France everybody is an aristocrat, for everybody aims to be distinguished from everybody. The red cap of the Jacobins is the red heel of the aristocrats at the other extremity, but it is the same distinctive sign. Only, as they hated each other, Jacobinism placed on its head what aristocracy placed under its foot."[8]
  • "In the matter of literary form it is the thing poured in the vase which makes the beauty of the vase, otherwise there is nothing more than a vessel."[9]
  • "Books must be set against books, as poisons against poisons."[10]
  • "When superior men are mistaken they are superior in that as in all else. They see more falsely than small or mediocre minds."[11]
  • "The Orient and Greece recall to my mind the saying, so colored and melancholic, of Richter: 'Blue is the color of mourning in the Orient. That is why the sky of Greece is so beautiful'."[12]
  • "Men give their measure by their admiration, and it is by their judgments that one may judge them."[13]
  • "The most beautiful destiny: to have genius and be obscure."[14]


See also



  1. Attacked at the time of its publication on a charge of immorality, it was adapted for the cinema by Catherine Breillat. Its English title is The Last Mistress.
  2. W. Somerset Maugham selected Boyd's translation of "The Crimson Curtain" for his Tellers of Tales (New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1939); also reprinted by Robert Irwin in Les Diaboliques (Sawtry, Cambs.: Dedalus, 1996).


  1. Robinson-Weber, Anne-Gaëlle (2000). "Présentation de l'Auteur." In: Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, Les Diaboliques, Paris: Bréal, pp. 15–17.
  2. Rousselot, Marguerite (2002). "Une Vieille Maitresse, Roman d'un Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly a-religieux ou Converti?". In: Roman et Religion en France (1813–1866). Paris: ed. Honoré Champion.
  3. Rudwin 1921
  4. Guérard 1913
  5. Beum 1997, 311–12.
  6. Auden, W.H.; Kronenberger, Lewis (1964). The Viking Book of Aphorisms. London: Faber & Faber. p. 170.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Pène du Bois, Henri (1897). Witty, Wise and Wicked Maxims. New York: Brentano's, p. 53.
  8. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 53.
  9. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 54.
  10. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 55.
  11. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 55.
  12. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 60.
  13. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 61.
  14. Pène du Bois (1897), p. 62.


Betham-Edwards, Matilda (1911), "French Author and Publisher Barbey d'Aurévilly and Trebutien", French Men, Women and Books, Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Co., pp. 95–104<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Beum, Robert (1997), "Ultra-Royalism Revisited", Modern Age, XXXIX (3): 291–316<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Bradley, William Aspenwall (1910), "Barbey D'Aurevilly: A French Disciple of Walter Scott", The North American Review, CXCII (659): 473–85<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Brooks, Peter (1998), "Erotic Melodrama and Narrative Ricochet", in Hustvedt, Asti, The Decadent Reader, New York: Zone Books, pp. 30–40, ISBN 1890951064<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
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Chartier, Armand B. (1977), Barbey d'Aurevilly, Boston: Twayne Publishers, ISBN 0805763058<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Doucette, Clarice M. (1998), "Power in Perspective: Barbey d'Aurevilly's 'Le bonheur dans le crime'", Dalhousie French Studies, XLIV: 55–64<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Eisenberg, Davina L. (1996), The Figure of the Dandy in Barbey d'Aurevilly's "Le Bonheur dans le Crime", New York: Peter Lang, ISBN 0820425508<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
France, Anatole (1922), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", On Life and Letters, 3, London: John Lane. The Bodley Head, pp. 37–44<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Fraser, Theodore P. (1994), The Modern Catholic Novel in Europe, New York: Twayne Publishers, ISBN 9780805745146<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Gosse, Edmund (1905), "Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly", French Profiles, London: William Heinemann, pp. 92–107<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Green, Frederick C. (1964), French Novelists: From the Revolution to Proust, New York: Frederick Ungar<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Griffiths, Richard (1966), The Reactionary Revolution: the Catholic Revival in French Literature, 1870–1914, London: Constable<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Guérard, Albert Leon (1913), "The Gospel of Authority: Barbey d'Aurevilly and Veuillot", French Prophets of Yesterday, London: T. Fisher Unwin, pp. 43–49<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Hansson, Laura Marholm (1899), "An Author on the Mystery of Woman: Barbey d'Aurevilly", We Women and Our Authors, London: John Lane. The Bodley Head, pp. 197–211<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
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Jackson, Holbrook (1922), "The New Dandyism", The Eighteen Nineties, London: Grant Richards, pp. 105–16<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Jamieson, T. John (1985), "Conservatism's Metaphysical Vision: Barbey d'Aurevilly on Joseph de Maistre", Modern Age, XXIX (1): 28–37<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
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Menczer, Béla (1962), "The Primacy of Imagination: From Diderot to Barbey d'Aurevilly", Catholic Political Thought, Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 49–57<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Moers, Ellen (1960), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm, New York: The Viking Press, pp. 253–70<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Respaut, Michèle M. (1999), "The Doctor's Discourse: Emblems of Science, Sexual Fantasy, and Myth in Barbey d'Aurevilly's 'Le Bonheur dans le Crime'", The French Review, LXXIII (1): 71–80<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
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Rudwin, Maximilian J. (1921), "The Satanism of Barbey d'Aurevilly", The Open Court, XXXV (2): 83–90<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Saltus, Edgar (1919), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", The Story without a Name, New York: Brentano's, pp. 5–23<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Scott, Malcolm (1990), The Struggle for the Soul of the French Novel: French Catholic and Realist Novelists, 1850–1970, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, ISBN 0813207207<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Toumayan, Alain (1994), "Barbey d'Aurevilly, Balzac, and 'La Vengeance d'une femme'", French Forum, XIX (1): 35–43<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Treherne, Philip (1912), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", Louis XVII and Other Papers, London: T. Fisher Unwin, pp. 133–46<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Turquet-Milnes, G. (1913), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", The Influence of Baudelaire in France and England, London: Constable and Company, pp. 135–45<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Whibley, Charles (1897), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", The New Review, XVI (93): 204–12<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Whitridge, Arnold (1922), "Barbey d'Aurevilly", The Cornhill Magazine, LIII (313): 49–56<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

Further reading

  • Albalat, Antoine (1898). "Barbey d'Aurevilly". La Nouvelle Revue. CXIV: 69–83.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Berthier, Philippe (1990). "Barbey d'Aurevilly Lecteur de la Révolution". Revue d'Histoire littéraire de la France. XC (4/5): 779–95.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Berthier, Philippe, ed. (2010). Barbey d'Aurevilly et la Modernité: Colloque du Bicentenaire (1808-2008). Paris: Honoré Champion.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Buet, Charles (1889). "Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly". La Nouvelle Revue. LIX: 526–39.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Daudet, Léon (1927). Écrivains et Artistes. 1. Paris: Éditions du Capitole.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Frigerio, Vittorio (1995). "Le Rideau cramoisi de Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly: Une Esthétique de l'Opposition". Nineteenth-Century French Studies. XXIII (3/4): 441–50.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Holder, Guillemette I. (1994–95). "Séduction Narrative et Donjuanisme chez Barbey d'Aurevilly". Nineteenth-Century French Studies. XXIII (1/2): 166–74. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Laroche, Hugues (2007). "Restaurer, Réparer: Barbey d'Aurevilly". Littérature (147): 54–68.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Petit, Jacques (1967). "Baudelaire et Barbey d'Aurevilly". Revue d'Histoire littéraire de la France. LXVII (2): 286–95.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pontmartin, Armand de (1866). "M. Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly". Nouveaux Samedis. 2. Paris: Michel Lévy. pp. 205–18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pontmartin, Armand de (1879). "Les Bas-bleus et Barbey d'Aurevilly". Nouveaux Samedis. 17. Paris: Michel Lévy. pp. 1–18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Pontmartin, Armand de (1883). "M. Barbey d'Aurevilly". Souvenirs d'un Vieux Critique. 3. Paris: Calmann Lévy. pp. 46–60.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Scheel, Charles (1991). "Le Chevalier Des Touches de Barbey D'Aurevilly: Roman à Thèse ou Épopée Don-quichottesque?". Nineteenth-Century French Studies. XIX (4): 583–99.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Seillière, Ernest (1910). Barbey d'Aurevilly: Ses Idées et Son Œuvre. Paris: Librairie Bloud.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thiollet, Jean-Pierre (2006). Barbey d'Aurevilly ou le Triomphe de l'Écriture. Paris: H. & D. Editions. ISBN 2-914266-06-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Verhaeren, Émile (1927). "Barbey d'Aurevilly". Impressions. 2. Paris: Mercure de France. pp. 185–94.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Yarrow, P.J. (1961). La Pensée Politique et Religieuse de Barbey d'Aurevilly. Genève: E. Droz.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links