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Vies imaginaires de Marcel Schwob
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Vies imaginaires (1896 original; edició 2004)

de Marcel Schwob (Auteur)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
256686,596 (4.09)9
"The art of the biographer consists specifically in choice. He is not meant to worry about speaking truth; he must create human characteristics amidst the chaos."--Marcel SchwobImaginary Lives remains, over 120 years since its original publication in French, one of the secret keys to modern literature: under-recognized, yet a decisive influence on such writers as Apollinaire, Borges, Jarry and Artaud, and more contemporary authors such as Roberto Bola o and Jean Echenoz. Drawing from historical influences such as Plutarch and Diogenes La rtius, and authors more contemporary to him such as Thomas De Quincey and Walter Pater, Schwob established the genre of fictional biography with this collection: a form of narrative that championed the specificity of the individual over the generality of history, and the memorable detail of a vice over the forgettable banality of a virtue.These 22 portraits present figures drawn from the margins of history, from Empedocles the "Supposed God" and Clodia the "Licentious Matron" to the pirate Captain Kidd and the Scottish murderers Messrs. Burke and Hare. In his quest for unique lives, Schwob also formulated an early conception of the anti-hero, and discarded historical figures in favor of their shadows. These "imaginary lives" thus acquaint us with the "Hateful Poet" Cecco Angiolieri instead of his lifelong rival, Dante Alighieri; the would-be romantic pirate Major Stede Bonnet instead of the infamous Blackbeard who would lead him to the gallows; the false confessor Nicolas Loyseleur rather than Joan of Arc whom he cruelly deceived; or the actor Gabriel Spenser in place of the better-remembered Ben Jonson who ran a sword through his lung.Marcel Schwob (1867-1905) was a scholar of startling breadth and an incomparable storyteller. The secret influence on generations of writers, Schwob was as versed in the street slang of medieval thieves as he was in the poetry of Walt Whitman (whom he translated into French).… (més)
Membre:MichaelCO
Títol:Vies imaginaires
Autors:Marcel Schwob (Auteur)
Informació:Flammarion (2004), 205 pages
Col·leccions:Llegit, però no el tinc
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Cap

Informació de l'obra

Vides imaginàries de Marcel Schwob (1896)

  1. 20
    A Universal History of Infamy de Jorge Luis Borges (Eustrabirbeonne)
  2. 00
    Written Lives de Javier Marías (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Both are collections of short biographies of real people, but whilst Schwob's accounts are creative Marias's are factual ones presented as fiction. Schwob isn't so well known as he deserves to be and Marias seems to be known here only for his novels, so these are in a sense neglected works. Both are quite wonderful.… (més)
  3. 00
    Les filles du feu/Les Chimères de Nerval (Eustrabirbeonne)
  4. 00
    Small Lives de Pierre Michon (Eustrabirbeonne)
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» Mira també 9 mencions

This is perhaps the hardest book I've ever had to review. If you just read the stories, they are entertaining enough--violent, tragic, strange, and so on. But since they are about real people, it is hard to judge what the author's intent was. This is especially true since most of them are obscure or ancient and my education never taught me about them, so I can't appreciate the alterations Schwob is introducing into their lives. I ended up looking at Wikipedia for many of these to see what the real story was. Schwob's versions tend to make things more definitive than they were. According to the introduction to a more modern version that I read a bit of, Schwob tends to focus on secondary players--such as the actor Ben Jonson killed rather than Jonson himself, or on Joan of Arc's false confessor. Still, the overall purpose eludes me. ( )
  datrappert | Oct 16, 2020 |


Always fascinating and frequently macabre and chilling - we pull back the curtain and enter the world of French symbolist and decadent author Marcel Schwob (1867-1905).

In his Imaginary Lives we encounter twenty-two portraits that are part fact, part myth, part author’s poetic fancy, where the individuals portrayed are taken from such fields as ancient history, philosophy, art, literature and even the worlds of crime and geomancy, such personages as Septima the enchantress, Petronius the romancer, Fra Dolcino the heretic, Pocahontas the princess, William Phips the treasure hunter and Captain Kidd the pirate. Here are some quotes and my comments on three lives from the collection:

Cyril Tourneur the tragic poet: “Cyril Tourneur was born out of the union of an unknown god with a prostitute. Proof enough of his divine origin has been found in the heroic atheism to which he succumbed. From his mother he inherited the instinct for revolt and luxury, the fear of death, the thrill of passion and the hate of kings. His father bequeathed him his desire for a crown, his pride of power and his joy of creating. To him both parents handed down their taste for nocturnal things, for a red glare in the night, and for blood.” So we read in Marcel Schwob’s first lines supercharged with mythos.

On a slightly more mundane level, Cyril Tourneur was an English dramatist born in 1575, author most notably of The Atheist’s Tragedy, a play of revenge employing rich macabre imagery. But who wants to be constricted within the confines of so called historical facts? Certainly not a fin de siècle symbolist and decadent like Marcel Schwob.

Each of the imagined lives is no more than several pages, but such lush, vivid language. Here is another excerpt from Cyril Tourneur: “For mistress he took a prostitute from Bankside, a girl who had haunted the waterfront streets. He called her Rosamonde. His love for her was unique. On her blonde, innocent face the rouge spots burned like flickering flames, and she was very young. Rosamonde bore Cyril Tourneur a daughter whom he loved. Having been looked at by a prince, Rosamonde died tragically, drinking emerald-colored poison from a transparent cup. Vengeance merged with pride in Cyril’s soul. Night came."

One last quote in hopes of further whetting a potential reader's appetite to feast on this finely crafted prose collection: “When Cyril Tourneur had thus satisfied his hatred for kings he was assailed by his hatred of the gods. The divine spark within him urged him on to original creation. He dreamed of founding an entire generation out of his own blood – a race of gods on earth.”

In Lucretius the poet we encounter the great Roman Epicurean who mixes reason and passion, particularly flames of love for a tall, languid African beauty. Lucretius reads his papyrus scrolls and contemplates the movements of the atoms throughout the universe. He also drinks deeply of a potion prepared by his African and because he is driven mad by the potion, he knows love in ways he never contemplated previously. And with such mad, intoxicating love comes, of course, a knowledge of another key facet of the universe - death.

Paolo Uccello the painter - Schwob’s tale of an artist who paints birds and beasts and who firmly believes through his powers of observation and an unflinching obsession with transforming all lines into a single ideal perspective, he will strike alchemical gold on canvas.

Indeed, Schwob’s Uccello hopes to discover the secret heart of creating, creating, that is, as if through the eye of God. For many laborious years Uccello the painter toiled over his supreme painting, showing it to not a single soul until one day when he was an old man of eighty, he uncovered his masterpiece for Donatello. The miracle was accomplished! But who had eyes to see?

(This is a review, including the above quotes, of the 1924 translation by Lorimer Hammond.)




“There is no science for the teguments of a leaf, for the filaments of a cell structure, the winding of a vein, the passion of a habit, or for the twists and quirks of character.”
― Marcel Schwob, Imaginary Lives ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |

Always fascinating and frequently macabre and chilling - welcome to the world of key French symbolist/decadent Marcel Schwob (1867-1905). In his ‘Imaginary Lives’ we encounter 22 portraits part fact, part myth, part author’s poetic fancy, where the individuals portrayed are taken from such fields as ancient history, philosophy, art, literature and even the worlds of crime and geomancy, such personages as Septima: Enchantress, Petronius: Romancer, Fra Dolcino: Heretic, Pocahontas: Princess, William Phips: Treasure Hunter, Captain Kidd: Pirate. Here are some quotes and my comments on 3 of the lives:

Cyril Tourneur: Tragic Poet: “Cyril Tourneur was born out of the union of an unknown god with a prostitute. Proof enough of his divine origin has been found in the heroic atheism to which he succumbed. From his mother he inherited the instinct for revolt and luxury, the fear of death, the thrill of passion and the hate of kings. His father bequeathed him his desire for a crown, his pride of power and his joy of creating. To him both parents handed down their taste for nocturnal things, for a red glare in the night, and for blood.” So we read in Marcel Schwob’s first lines supercharged with mythos.

On a slightly more mundane level, Cyril Tourneur was an English dramatist born in 1575, author most notably of ‘The Atheist’s Tragedy’ a play of revenge employing rich macabre imagery. But who wants to be constricted within the confines of so called historical facts? Certainly not a fin de siècle symbolist and decadent like Marcel Schwob.

Each of the imagined lives is no more than several pages, but such lush, vivid language. Here is another excerpt from Cyril Tourneur: “For mistress he took a prostitute from Bankside, a girl who had haunted the waterfront streets. He called her Rosamonde. His love for her was unique. On her blonde, innocent face the rouge spots burned like flickering flames, and she was very young. Rosamonde bore Cyril Tourneur a daughter whom he loved. Having been looked at by a prince, Rosamonde died tragically, drinking emerald-colored poison from a transparent cup.
Vengeance merged with pride in Cyril’s soul. Night came . . . “

One last quote in hopes of further whetting a potential reader's appetite to feast on this finely crafted prose collection: “When Cyril Tourneur had thus satisfied his hatred for kings he was assailed by his hatred of the gods. The divine spark within him urged him on to original creation. He dreamed of founding an entire generation out of his own blood – a race of gods on earth.”

In Lucretius: Poet we encounter the great Roman Epicurean who mixes reason and passion, particularly flames of love for a tall, languid African beauty. Lucretius reads his papyrus scrolls and contemplates the movements of the atoms throughout the universe. He also drinks deeply of a potion prepared by his African and because he is driven mad by the potion, he knows love in ways he never contemplated previously. And with such mad, intoxicating love comes, of course, a knowledge of another key facet of the universe -- death.

Paolo Uccello: Painter --- Schwob’s tale of an artist who paints birds and beasts and who firmly believes through his powers of observation and an unflinching obsession with transforming all lines into a single ideal perspective, he will strike alchemical gold on canvas. Indeed, Schwob’s Uccello hopes to discover the secret heart of creating, creating, that is, as if through the eye of God. For many laborious years Uccello the painter toiled over his supreme painting, showing it to not a single soul until one day when he was an old man of 80, he uncovered his masterpiece for Donatello. The miracle was accomplished! But who had eyes to see?

(This is a review, including the above quotes, of the 1924 translation by Lorimer Hammond.) ( )
1 vota GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Marcel Schwob passe à la postérité littéraire rien qu'avec ces vies imaginaires, véritables petites perles que le lecteur ferait bien de lire, de relire et de garder précieusement dans son coffret à merveilles. L'auteur prend le parti de ne considérer que les grands traits de caractère de ses personnages, englobant à la fois une vie et quelques détails bien choisis. Marcel Schwob cite ses prédécesseurs illustres, en particulier James Boswell, auteur de la "Vie de Samuel Johnson", et surtout John Aubrey dont les "Brief Lives" restent une référence, malheureusement indisponible en langue française.

Marcel Schwob, dans sa tentative de retracer ces vies imaginaires, s'attache à combler un manque flagrant qui apparaît chez bon nombre de biographes : ne raconter que les vies des personnes connues. Or, ici, l'auteur ne discrimine pas, toutes les vies ayant la même valeur, les connues comme les inconnues. Toutes reçoivent le même traitement de l'auteur et cela nous les rend particulièrement attachantes.

Schwob est le fils stylistique de Théophile Gautier et des symbolistes. Son écriture est à la fois très précise et chatoyante, colorée et sonore. Les mots utilisés, en particulier les adjectifs, prennent part au plaisir de la lecture. On se souvient de la première phrase de Salammbô, qui donne la couleur du roman de Flaubert : "C'était à Mégara, faubourg de Carthage, dans les jardins d'Hamilcar". Schwob est de la même veine dès le premier portrait : "Personne ne sait quelle fut sa naissance, ni comment il vint sur Terre. Il apparût près des rives dorées du fleuve Acragas, dans la belle cité d'Agrigente, un peu après le temps où Xersès fit frapper la mer de chaînes". C'est enivrant comme un parfum capiteux.

Voici les portraits tracés dans ces courts tableaux :

Empédocle, dieu supposé
Erostrate, incendiaire
Cratès, cynique
Septima, incantatrice
Lucrèce, poète
Clodia, matronne impudique
Pétrone, romancier
Sufrah, géomancien
Frate Dolcino, Hérétique
Cecco Angioleri, poète haineux
Paolo Uccello, peintre
Nicolas Loyseleur, juge
Katherine la dentellière, fille amoureuse
Alain le Gentil, soldat
Gabriel Spenser, acteur
Pocahontas, princesse
Cyril Tourneur, poète tragique
William Phips, pêcheur de trésor
Le capitaine Kid, pirate
Walter Kennedy, pirate illettré
Le major Stede Bonnet, pirate par humeur
MM. Burke et Hare, assassins

On comprend à sa lecture pourquoi ce livre avait inspiré Jorge Luis Borges dans ses courtes nouvelles. ( )
  Veilleur_de_nuit | Jun 30, 2011 |
El biografismo de Schwob es otra rama de la ficción histórica, tal vez la rama minimalista, con menos pretensión de épica. Su método de trabajo, como en otros, es la suposición y la adivinación, artes oscuras y, para algunas tribus, culinarias. En lo esencial, desde otra perspectiva, no diferiría del método de cualquier biografía. Los hechos públicos de cualquier persona conservan lo esencial de las acciones y de los objetos naturales, por poner, un ser humano, por adivinar, un asesinato. La referencia de esos hechos suele ser menos acostumbrada que la valoración. Decir que, por elegir un personaje, San Martín "libertó" Chile, no es datar un acontecimiento, es valorarlo. Schwob, suponiendo, no se alejaría realmente de la tradición biográfica histórica y axiológica, o valorativa, que inventa o supone (para ser menos artificialistas). ( )
  Elaguadelaespada | Apr 27, 2011 |
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La science historique nous laisse dans l'incertitude sur les individus. Elle ne nous révèle que les points par où ils furent attachés aux actions générales. Elle nous dit que Napoléon était souffrant le jour de Waterloo, qu'il faut attribuer l'excessive activité intellectuelle de Newton à la continence absolue de son tempérament, qu'Alexandre était ivre lorsqu'il tua Klitos et que la fistule de Louis XIV put être la cause de certaines de ses résolutions. Pascal raisonne sur le nez de Cléopâtre, s'il eût été plus court, ou sur un grain de sable dans l’urètre de Cromwell. Tous ces faits individuels n'ont de valeur que parce qu'ils ont modifié les évènements ou qu'ils auraient pu en dévier la série. Ce sont des causes réelles ou possibles. Il faut les laisser aux savants.
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"The art of the biographer consists specifically in choice. He is not meant to worry about speaking truth; he must create human characteristics amidst the chaos."--Marcel SchwobImaginary Lives remains, over 120 years since its original publication in French, one of the secret keys to modern literature: under-recognized, yet a decisive influence on such writers as Apollinaire, Borges, Jarry and Artaud, and more contemporary authors such as Roberto Bola o and Jean Echenoz. Drawing from historical influences such as Plutarch and Diogenes La rtius, and authors more contemporary to him such as Thomas De Quincey and Walter Pater, Schwob established the genre of fictional biography with this collection: a form of narrative that championed the specificity of the individual over the generality of history, and the memorable detail of a vice over the forgettable banality of a virtue.These 22 portraits present figures drawn from the margins of history, from Empedocles the "Supposed God" and Clodia the "Licentious Matron" to the pirate Captain Kidd and the Scottish murderers Messrs. Burke and Hare. In his quest for unique lives, Schwob also formulated an early conception of the anti-hero, and discarded historical figures in favor of their shadows. These "imaginary lives" thus acquaint us with the "Hateful Poet" Cecco Angiolieri instead of his lifelong rival, Dante Alighieri; the would-be romantic pirate Major Stede Bonnet instead of the infamous Blackbeard who would lead him to the gallows; the false confessor Nicolas Loyseleur rather than Joan of Arc whom he cruelly deceived; or the actor Gabriel Spenser in place of the better-remembered Ben Jonson who ran a sword through his lung.Marcel Schwob (1867-1905) was a scholar of startling breadth and an incomparable storyteller. The secret influence on generations of writers, Schwob was as versed in the street slang of medieval thieves as he was in the poetry of Walt Whitman (whom he translated into French).

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