Pierre Loti Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Pierre Loti (lah-tee) was the pseudonym of Louis-Marie-Julien Viaud, born in 1850 to pious Protestants. In 1866 his father was accused of embezzling fourteen thousand francs; the family was traumatized and financially ruined. Loti cut short his schooling and joined the navy. In the ensuing years, during which he sailed throughout the world and got to know many foreign lands and cultures, he wrote a number of semi-autobiographical novels which proved immensely popular in French and translated into a number of other languages. He was elected to the French Academy in 1891. Near the turn of the century, he suffered some scandal because of his close friendships with handsome young sailors. In 1910 Loti retired from active duty with the navy, but he rejoined the service during World War I. He died in retirement at Hendaye on June 10, 1923.{$S[A]Viaud, Julien;Loti, Pierre}

Many of Loti’s novels are set in the lands he visited. Rarahu: Or, The Marriage of Loti, for example, based on his seventy-three-day stay in Tahiti, includes Tahitian letters adapted from those sent to one of his acquaintances. Madame Chrysantheme fictionalizes his month-long “marriage” to a Japanese woman in Nagasaki. Such novels usually center on a primitive but rather melancholy love affair between a native girl and a French sailor, and they contain vivid descriptions, in which the author captures the sights, sounds, and smells of exotic scenes and places. Other novels are set nearer home. His most famous work, An Iceland Fisherman, pictures life among the Breton fishermen, and Ramuntcho is a story of the Basque country. A mood of pessimism pervades these works. In his novels Loti is emotional rather than thoughtful and more interested in a poetic, romantic style than in plot construction.

Pierre Loti Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Blanch, Lesley. Pierre Loti: The Legendary Romantic. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

Bongie, Chris. Exotic Memories: Literature, Colonialism, and the Fin de Siècle. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991.

D’Auvergne, Edmund B. Pierre Loti: The Romance of a Great Writer. 1926. Reprint. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1970.

Hargreaves, Alec G. The Colonial Experience in French Fiction: A Study of Pierre Loti, Ernest Psichari, and Pierre Mille. London: Macmillan Press, 1981.

Hsieh, Yvonne Y. From Occupation to Revolution: China Through the Eyes of Loti, Claudel, Segalen, and Malraux, 1895-1933. Birmingham, Ala.: Summa, 1996.

Lerner, Michael G. Pierre Loti. New York: Twayne, 1974.

Szyliowicz, Irene L. Pierre Loti and the Oriental Woman. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988.