Offering a vivid, opulent portrayal of obsession and despair, this title is also a philosophical portrait of a man and his times, expressing the failed idealism of the Romantic generation of the early nineteenth century. It presents a honest, passionate account of a young man's rite of passage.
Alfred de Musset was born in 1810 in Paris. He attempted careers in medicine, law and drawing before publishing his first collection of poems, Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie (1829). He subsequently wrote numerous plays, and the erotic novel Gamiani, or Two Nights of Excess (1833) is sometimes attributed to him. From 1833 to 1835, he had an affair with the novelist George Sand, which became the basis for his most famous novel La Confession d'un Enfant du Siecle (1836). Sand herself also fictionalized the affair in her novel Elle et lui. Musset died in 1857 and was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.David Coward is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Leeds. He won a Scott-Moncrieff prize for his edition of Albert Cohen's Belle du Seigneur, and has also translated Moliere for Penguin Classics.