Gaston Leroux, a lawyer, journalist, and writer of fiction, was born in Paris on May 6, 1868, two years before the formation of the Third Republic. He was the son of a building contractor. Although Paris-born, Leroux always thought of himself as a Normande, as his mother was from Normandy. He lived for some years at Eu, inland from Le Tréport, while his father was engaged in the restoration of a castle. Leroux attended a school in Eu for a time; later, he was graduated from secondary school in Caen, Normandy.
Leroux removed himself to Paris, where he took up residence in the Latin Quarter and began the study of law, which he later practiced on completion of his studies. A description of his physique about this time by a contemporary indicates that he was a plump man with a curly, chestnut beard. From behind his spectacles, his dark eyes sparkled with malice, his countenance suggesting repressed irreverence. He overflowed with life and energy, and he seemed to have in him something of the street Arab and the Bacchic reveler. The whole judicial system frustrated and irritated him. Eventually, he quit. Leroux remained cynical about the judicial system the rest of his life, and this attitude pervades his fiction. His Rouletabille redresses the errors of human justice, and Chéri-Bibi, for a time at least, is both the victim of judicial error and the instrument of supreme justice.
After his stint as a lawyer, Leroux decided to enter the...
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