Jules Vallès Criticism - Essay

Victor Brombert (essay date 1961)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vallès and the Pathos of Rebellion," in his The Intellectual Hero: Studies in the French Novel, 1880-1955, J. B. Lippincott Co., 1961, pp. 43-51.

[In the following excerpt, Brombert contends that despite Vallès's often misunderstood humor, his works viscerally communicate the tragic circumstances of Leftist intellectuals who were not accepted by existing institutions or by the revolutionary workers they wished to support.]

Jules Vallès' disheveled exuberance was not confined to literature. Son of a provincial schoolteacher who sent him to Paris to prepare for the Ecole Normale, he despised diplomas, preferred the more hot-blooded bohemian life, launched...

(The entire section is 3464 words.)

Barbara P. Edmonds (essay date 1967)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "In Search of Jules Vallès," in The French Review: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of French, Vol. 40, 1967, pp. 636-42.

[In the following essay, Edmonds considers the autobiographical aspects of Vallès's Jacques Vingtras trilogy and emphasizes Vallès's contribution to the development of French political literature written to support the working class.]

Jules Vallès's colorful life (1832-1885) was marked by a bohemian existence, militant politics including participation in the Commune, imprisonment, and exile. In spite of destitution and failing health, he founded two leading newspapers of the day: La Rue, in 1867, with the...

(The entire section is 3083 words.)

W. D. Redfern (essay date 1976)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Vallés and the Existential Pun," in Mosaic, Vol. IX, No. 3, Spring, 1976, pp. 27-39.

[In the following essay, Redfern examines Vallès's use of wordplay, proposing that for Vallès the pun demonstrates both the power and the inadequacy of words. Moreover, Redfern suggests, Vallès's linguistic playfulness lends a sense of freedom and vitality to his work.]

Adām (man) was created out of adamāh (earth); and we know about Peter. In the beginning was the pun, in this case a simply divine pun. Cultural historians tell us that play with words (insult-competitions, lying tournaments, joutes de jactance) is one of the most beloved practices of...

(The entire section is 6677 words.)

I. H. Birchall (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jules Vallès: Education and the Novel," in Gedenkschrift for Victor Poznanski, edited by C. A. M. Noble, Peter Lang, 1981, pp. 129-46.

[In the following essay, Birchall considers Vallès's trilogy Jacques Vingtras in relation to the German literary tradition of the bildungsroman, or educational novel. Birchall suggests that Vallès reworks the traditional bildungsroman by yoking together individual growth and social tranformation.]

Novels, wrote Dr. Johnson, 'are written chiefly for the young, the ignorant, and the idle, to whom they serve as lectures of conduct and introductions into life.'1 The connection between education...

(The entire section is 6160 words.)

Gerhard Fischer (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jules Vallès, La Commune de Paris (1872)," in his The Paris Commune on the Stage: Vallès, Grieg, Brecht, Adamov, European University Studies, Series 1: German Language and Literature, Vol. 422, Peter Lang, 1981, pp. 36-52.

[In the following excerpt, Fischer demonstrates the value of Vallès's play La Commune de Paris as a detailed and personal history of the Paris Commune of 1871, arguing that although the plot and characterizations are unrealistic, the drama vividly portrays the social and political conflicts surrounding the event.]

La Commune de Paris, subtitled by its author a "grand drame historique,"1 is an...

(The entire section is 6516 words.)

Caryl Lloyd (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Politics of Privacy in the Works of Jules Vallès," in The French Review: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of French, Vol. 58, No. 6, May, 1985, pp. 835-42.

[In the following essay, Lloyd focuses on the depiction of space in the Jacques Vingtras trilogy, arguing that Vallès's negative portrayal of private spaces underscores the loneliness and isolation of bourgeois life. Vallès's contrasting views of public and private spaces, Lloyd contends, reveal a sophisticated understanding of the evolution of modern institutions.]

The nineteenth century was an age of humanitarian reform of those institutions designed to house the alienated. It...

(The entire section is 4241 words.)

Caryl Lloyd (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Politics of Irony and Alienation: A Study of Jules Vallés' Le Bachelier," in Romance Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, February, 1987, pp. 27-33.

[In the following essay, Lloyd applies Karl Marx's notion of alienation to illuminate the character Jacques Vingtras 's troubled relationship to both work and workers, emphasizing Vallès's use of irony as a textual representation of alienation.]

As in all previous history, whoever emerges as victor still participates in that triumph in which today's rulers march over the prostrate bodies of their victims. As is customary, the spoils are born aloft in that triumphal parade. These are generally...

(The entire section is 4591 words.)

Gretchen van Slyke (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Militancy in the Making: The Example of Le Bachelier," in Stanford French Review, Vol. XI, No. 3, Fall, 1987, pp. 331-44.

[In the following essay, van Slyke discusses Le Bachelier as an example of militant autobiography, using such an approach to demonstrate how the novel brings both author and reader into the text.] In proposing to study Vallès's Le bachelier as an example of what I call militant autobiography, my aim is not to dispute the justly deserved reputation of this work. I do, however, wish to examine the paradoxical means by which Le bachelier has achieved that recognition. Why I say "paradoxical" will, I hope, become clear in the course of these...

(The entire section is 5580 words.)

Walter Redfern (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "L'Enfant," in his Feet First: Jules Vallès, University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1992, pp. 89-116.

[In the following excerpt, Redfern examines the first book of Vallès's Vingtras trilogy, L'Enfant, focusing on Vallès's use of sensory detail and his keen perception of the joys and injustices of childhood and education.]

In Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco writes: 'The literature of memory: he knew himself that it was the last refuge of scoundrels'. Sometimes, no doubt, but for Vallès the past was the true homeland. The only convincing fiction he could write (and he applied the same criterion to other writers) was...

(The entire section is 1745 words.)


(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.(PHILIP LARKIN: 'This Be the Verse')

Vous ne réssirez pas à me dénaturer(DIDEROT: Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville)

As Sartre, and common experience, tell us, society is first mediated, transfused, to us via our families. It was inevitable that Vallès should begin at the beginning, where we are all made, unmade, or make ourselves. Just as Nizan wanted to smash the iconic view of youth as the best years of our lives, so Vallès worked to...

(The entire section is 12937 words.)

Walter Redfern (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Exile and Return: La Rue à Londres," in his Feet First: Jules Vallès, University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1992, pp. 145-72.

[In the following excerpt, Redfern discusses Vallès's exile in London, from about 1872 to 1880, focusing on Vallès's contrasting views of Paris and London and the background for Vallès's book La Rue a Londres. Redfern also describes Vallès's efforts to work in Paris following his return from London and the defeat of the Paris Commune, particularly his work on the newspaper Le Cri du peuple.]


Long before he was forced into it, Vallès hankered for a chosen exile,...

(The entire section is 9433 words.)

Charles J. Stivale (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Le Plissement and La fêlure: The Paris Commune in Vallès's L'Insurgé and Zola's La Débâcle," in Modernity and Revolution in Late Nineteenth-Century France, edited by Barbara T. Cooper and Mary Donaldson-Evans, University of Delaware Press, 1992, pp. 143-54.

[In the following excerpt, Stivale contrasts Vallès's and Emile Zola's representation of the Paris Commune of 1871, arguing that Vallès's emphasis on identifying and naming historical agents in his narration of class conflict makes possible the recognition and resistance of seemingly natural sources of power.]

In his provocative analysis of Zola's La Bâte humaine...

(The entire section is 4915 words.)