Jules Amédée Barbey Daurevilly (1808-1889), French man of letters, was born at Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte (Manche) on the 2nd of November 1808. His most famous novels are Une Vieille Maîtresse (1851), attacked at the time of its publication on the charge of immorality; L'Ensorcelée (1854), an episode of the royalist rising among the Norman peasants against the first republic; the Chevalier Destouches (1864); and a collection of extraordinary stories entitled Les Diaboliques (1874). Barbey d'Aurevilly is an extreme example of the eccentricities of which the Romanticists were capable, and to read him is to understand the discredit that fell upon the manner. He held extreme Catholic views and wrote on the most risqué subjects, he gave himself aristocratic airs and hinted at a mysterious past, though his parentage was entirely bourgeois and his youth very hum-drum and innocent. In the 'fifties d'Aurevilly became literary critic of the Pays, and a number of his essays, contributed to this and other journals, were collected as Les oeuvres et les hommes du XIXe siècle (1861-1865). Other literary studies are Les Romanciers (1866) and Goethe et Diderot (1880). He died in Paris on the 23rd of April 1889. Paul Bourget describes him as a dreamer with an exquisite sense of vision, who sought and found in his work a refuge from the uncongenial world of every day.
Jules Lemaître, a less sympathetic critic, finds in the extraordinary crimes of his heroes and heroines, his reactionary views, his dandyism and snobbery, an exaggerated Byronism.
See also Alcide Dusolier, Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (1862), a collection of eulogies and interviews; Paul Bourget, Preface to d'Aurevilly's Memoranda (1883); Jules Lemaître, Les Contemporains; Eugène Grelé, Barbey d'Aurevilly, sa vie et son oeuvre (1902); René Doumic, in the Revue des deux mondes (Sept. 1902).