Biography of Jean Richepin (1849-1926)

Poet, storyteller, playwright and French speaker, born at Medea (Algeria) in 1849, and died in Paris in 1926. Since its origins of critical and provocative poet, defended the disadvantaged classes and wielded a literary trade designed to undermine the foundations of the current morality and established power. However, fame led him to creative virtuosity and the stylistic mannerisms, to end up accommodating him on within a society that he/she had lampooned crossly.

Son of a doctor in the French army, was born in a camp military of North Africa, where his father was destined. But soon moved with his family to the French capital, in where he/she received a careful education, classically inspired and humanist, in the famous École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Since his early youth, the young Jean Richepin was inclined towards a dissipated and adventurous life that led him to participate in the most varied Ambiances of the Bohemian Paris, where soon was known as parishioner regular at all the cafes of Montmartre and enthusiastic facilitator of the most extravagant cultural projects. Among them, had special resonance in the Paris of his time the Foundation of the poetic group of Vivants, created to censor and break the social and cultural conventions of the time, through poems and songs from popular and satirical cut that did not leave puppet head. In line with these activities promoted by Vivants, the most radical of them, Jean Richepin, came to star in a picturesque tour of all his country enrolled in the nomadic caravan of a Gypsy tribe.

After exhausting his first youth in these and other similar occupations that, even though they reported him a deserved reputation of enfant terrible, not threw no printed edition of scattered compositions that was already largely known, in the mid-1970s decided to gather his famous poems on vagrants in a volume entitled La chanson des gueux (beggars song1876), which immediately became a stone of scandal in Paris in the last quarter of the 19th century. Consisting of a series of compositions depicting great naturalist harsh, angry life of the lower social strata, this opera prima of the bustling Richepin was banned by the French authorities, which decreed the immediate implementation in prison of its author, on charges of violating public morals with his writings.

As it is usual, this disproportionate justice gala performance provoked a completely opposite effect to that sought to achieve, so Richepin and his poems enjoyed soon a growing fame whose wake was used by the author to give printed other volumes of verse. Thus, in 1877 returned to the shelves of the libraries with the collection of poems entitled Les caresses (caresses, 1877), a collection of compositions characterized by its on eroticism; and, seven years later, he/she returned to disturb the tranquillity of the other with Les Blasphemes (blasphemy, 1884), a poetry book that raised controversy because of its materialistic and anti-religious content.

By then, the poet Richepin had already given known also as writer, through some extraordinary fantastic stories that dominated by terror, they paid tribute to the dark tales of American writer Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of short stories, presented under the title of Les morts bizarres (the valiant dead, 1876) was just the anticipation of an interesting narrative production, which gave way to some novels of regionalist inspiration, as Miarka, fille à l'ourse (Miarka, the daughter of the osa, 1883) and Braves gents (right-thinking people, 1886); However, this change of gender did not lead the author to renege on its old status as poet, as demonstrated was at the exit to the poetry book Street Le mer (the sea, 1886), composed while he/she wrote the above mentioned works in prose.

Giving categorical evidence of its versatility and ease literary, simultaneously Jean Richepin had begun to cultivate the dramatic genre, where he/she ventured with good pulse thanks to a series of comedies that became one of the most acclaimed of late 19th century playwrights. After the happy premiere of Nana Shabib (1883), contributed decisively to escape rebirth in France of the romantic Theatre, with works as you filibustier (the filibuster, 1888), Vers the joie (towards the joy, 1894) and, above all, Le chemineau (the tramp, 1897), unanimously held as his masterpiece, and no doubt the most popular dramatic part of his time, after the Cyrano de Bergerac of Rostand.

The impact achieved by these theatrical successes made Jean Richepin a famous author, more and more integrated in official artistic circles and, in general, in the high society of Paris at the beginning of the new century. Thus, in 1908, he/she was elected member of the French Academy, where settled definitively to devote himself to live in the many conferences that dictated, based on his literary memoirs and in the analysis of social phenomena that he/she had known long ago.

J. R. Fernández Cano