René-François-Ar Prudhomme Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

René-François-Armand Prudhomme, later known as Sully Prudhomme (sewl-lee prew-dawm), was born in Paris in 1839, the son of a shopkeeper. When he was two, his father died, and thereafter he lived with his mother and an older sister in Paris and in Châtenay, a village south of Paris. In childhood he acquired the nickname “Sully,” which would become his pseudonym.{$S[A]Prudhomme, René-François-Armand;Sully Prudhomme}

Although Châtenay was noted as a center of intellectual activity, in his youth Sully Prudhomme was more interested in mathematics than in literature. However, his hopes for an engineering career were blasted when he developed an eye disease. After clerking briefly in a foundry, in 1860 he went to Paris to study law and began working in a solicitor’s office. Meanwhile, encouraged by friends who were writers, he tried his hand at poetry. In 1863, his poem “L’Art” appeared in La Revue Nationale et Étrangère. By that time, Prudhomme confided in his journal, he wanted only to be a poet. When a bequest made him financially independent, he abandoned the law to devote his full time to writing. In 1865, one of his friends financed the publication of Stances et poèmes, his first collection. Another took the volume to Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, France’s most influential literary critic, whose favorable review established the young poet’s reputation.

Among Sully Prudhomme’s friends in Paris was...

(The entire section is 597 words.)