Octave Mirbeau (16 February 1848 – 16 February 1917) was a French journalist, art critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright, who achieved celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde. His work has been translated into thirty languages.

Mirbeau spent his childhood in a village of the Normandy, Rémalard, pursuing secondary studies at a Jesuit college in Vannes, which expelled him at the age of fifteen. Two years after the traumatic experience of the 1870 war, he was tempted by a call from the Bonapartist leader Dugué de la Fauconnerie, who hired him as private secretary and introduced him to L'Ordre de Paris.

After his debut in journalism in the service of the Bonapartists, and his debut in literature when he worked as a ghostwriter, Mirbeau began to publish under his own name. Thereafter, he wrote in order to express his own ethical principles and aesthetic values. A supporter of the anarchist cause (cf. Voters strike) and fervent supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, Mirbeau embodied the intellectual who involved himself in civic issues. Independent of all parties, Mirbeau believed that one’s primary duty was to remain lucid.

As an art critic, he campaigned on behalf of the “great gods nearest to his heart”: he sang the praises of Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Renoir, Félix Vallotton, and Pierre Bonnard, and was an early advocate of Vincent Van Gogh, Camille Claudel, Aristide Maillol, and Maurice Utrillo (cf. Combats esthétiques).

As a literary critic and early member of Académie Goncourt, he 'discovered' Maurice Maeterlinck and Marguerite Audoux and admired Remy de Gourmont, Marcel Schwob, Léon Bloy, Georges Rodenbach, Alfred Jarry, Charles-Louis Philippe, Émile Guillaumin, Valery Larbaud and Léon Werth (cf. his Combats littéraires).

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Octave Mirbeau Poems

Octave Mirbeau Quotes

When one tears away the veils and shows them naked, people's souls give off such a pungent smell of decay.
Octave Mirbeau (1850-1917), French journalist, author. "14 September," (1900). The Diary of a Chambermaid.
The greatest danger of bombs is in the explosion of stupidity that they provoke.
Octave Mirbeau (1850-1917), French journalist, author. "Pour Jean Grave," Le Journal (Feb. 19, 1894). Referring to a bombing campaign, which Jean Grave had allegedly incited by his inflammatory anarchist pamphlets, and for which he was to be tried the following week.
Murder is born of love, and love attains the greatest intensity in murder.
Octave Mirbeau (1850-1917), French journalist, author. "The Manuscript," The Torture Garden (1899).

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