Louis Charles Alfred De Musset, popularly known as Alfred de Musset, a French poet, born in Paris, Nov. 11, 1810, died there, May 2, 1857. He was a son of Victor Donatien de Musset (1768-1832), better known under the name of Musset-Pathay, a cousin of the marquis Musset de Cogners, and, like the latter, of literary distinction, especially for his writings about Rousseau. Alfred is said to have written a tragedy as early as 1826, and in 1828 he received a prize for a Latin dissertation. He alternated for some time between the studies of medicine, law, and art, and was for a short period attached to a banking house, but was encouraged in his predilection for literature by intercourse with Charles Nodier and Victor Hugo. His first work, Les contes d'Espagne et d'ltalie (1830), revealed his poetic talent, and excited much attention and comment on account of the unbridled utterances of a fan-tastic and erotic imagination. His next important production, Le spectacle dans un fau-tcuil (1833), consisted of a tragical poem (La coupe et les levres). a graceful comedy or imbroglio (A quo), revent les jeunes filles?), and a kind of Byronic narrative in verse (Namouna), containing eloquent lines addressed to the Ty-rolese, which were regarded by his admirers as the most classical production of the romantic school.
More perhaps than any of his contemporaries he embodied in his effusions morbid and skeptical views of life, which mar to some extent the beauty of his exquisite poem Rolla (1835), and of his Confession d'un enfant du siecle (1836; new ed., 1859). In the latter work he describes under fictitious names his journey to Italy with George Sand, and his relations with that authoress, which led her to publish in 1859 Elle et lui, and to the appearance in the same year of Lui et elle by Alfred's brother, Paul Edme de Musset (born in Paris, Nov. 7, 1804, and known as the author of Lesfemmes de la regence, 2 vols., 1841, and other works), and to George Sand's refutation of the latter's allegation against her, in the preface to her novel Jean de la Roche, also in 1859. Alfred became in 1836 as devoted to Mme. Malibran as he had previously been to Mine. Dudevant. His Poesies nouvelles (latest ed., 1862) contain his Strophes d la Malibran, and his Nuit de mai, de decembre, d'octobre et d'aout; these Nuits are regarded as the most beautiful of his lyrics, and as most deeply reflecting the conflicting emotions of his inner life.
Among other fine effusions are his Let-tre d Lamartine and L'Espoir en Dieu. During the political complications in 1840 he answered Becker's German war song in regard to the Rhine with a poem entitled Nous l'avons eu, voire Rhin allemand. The influence of the duke of Orleans, who had been his college classmate, had procured for him the office of librarian in the ministry of the interior; and he commemorated the death of that prince in 1842 in one of his most eloquent poems. He was deprived of his office at the revolution of 1848, but was restored to it after the establishment of the empire (1852), with the title of reader to the empress. His finest poetry was written before his 30th year, which made Heine say: Cest un jeune homme d'un beau passe. His Contes comprise Mimi Perison, His-toire d'un merle blanc, and La mouche (1854). Among his best novelettes are Emmeline and Margot. He was less successful as a dramatist, though his Un caprice (3d ed., Paris, 1848), LI ne faut jurer de rien (1848), and LI faut qiCune porte soit ouverte on fermee (1851), were received with great favor.
A complete edition of his Comedies et proverbes, revised by himself, was published in 2 vols, in 1856. His complete works, with illustrations, and a biographical notice by his brother, appeared in 10 vols, in 1865-'6. His (Euvres posthumes (1867) include Faustine, an unfinished drama, L Ane et le ruisseau, a graceful comedy, and poems and letters, one of the latter containing a picturesque account of Rachel's reading Phedre to him in her house.