Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)
ph_0111207200-Merimee.jpg Prosper Mérimée. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Prosper Mérimée (MEHR-ih-may) experimented with various literary forms at the start of his career, before discovering that fiction was his true artistic vocation. His first composition, never published, was a tragedy in the Romantic style concerning Oliver Cromwell, and the first work published was a set of four critical articles on the theater of Spain’s Golden Age.

Mérimée’s debut as an author of books was made in disguise, in the form of two literary hoaxes, one volume purporting to be a group of six plays translated from the Spanish, the other a collection of Illyrian folk poetry translated from the Serbian. The contents of both volumes were actually clever pastiches of Mérimée’s own invention. Under his own name, he then published a volume containing two plays based on historical material before publishing as a novelist, at the age of twenty-six, a well-received historical romance constructed around the episode of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Huguenots in 1572.

Mérimée’s first novel was followed almost immediately by a brilliant group of short stories that are generally credited with having established the short story in France as a valid new genre and that definitively confirmed Mérimée’s primary calling in literature as that of storyteller. Thereafter, he devoted his creative efforts almost exclusively to the writing of fiction, the only exceptions being two brief closet dramas that he allowed to be...

(The entire section is 581 words.)