Marcel Schwob  

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"The science of history leaves us uncertain as to individuals, revealing only those points by which individuals have been attached to generalities. History tells us that Napoleon was ill on the day of Waterloo; that we must attribute Newton’s excessive intellectuality to the absolute consistency of his temperament; that Alexander was drunk when he killed Klitos; and that the fistula of Louis XIV was perhaps the cause of certain of his resolutions. Pascal speculates on the length of Cleopatra's nose . . . the possible consequences had it been a trifle shorter; and on the grain of sand in Cromwell’s urethra. All these facts are valued only when they modify events or alter a series of events. They are causes, established or possible. We must leave them to savants."--Imaginary Lives (1896) by Marcel Schwob

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Marcel Schwob (1867-1905) was a French writer known for such texts as Imaginary Lives (1896).


In 1884 Schwob discovered Robert Louis Stevenson, who became one of his models, and whom he translated into French.

He was a true symbolist, with a diverse and an innovatory style. His name stands beside Stéphane Mallarmé, Octave Mirbeau, André Gide, Léon Bloy, Charles Péguy, Jules Renard, Alfred Jarry, Édouard Dujardin in French Literature.

He is the author of Coeur double ("Double Heart", 1891), Le livre de Monelle ("Monelle’s Book", 1896), Les vies imaginaires ("Imaginary Lives", 1896).

Alfred Vallette, director of the leading young review, the Mercure de France, thought he was "one of the keenest minds of our time", in 1892. Téodor de Wyzewa in 1893, thought it would be tomorrow's taste in literature itself.

Paul Valéry dedicated two of his works to him - Introduction à la Méthode de Léonard de Vinci to Schwob and the Soirée avec M. Teste. Alfred Jarry dedicated his Ubu Roi to Schwob. Oscar Wilde dedicated to him his long poem "The Sphinx" (1894) "in friendship and admiration."

Marcel Schwob worked on Oscar Wilde's play Salome, which was written in French to avoid a British law forbidding the depiction of Bible characters on stage. Wilde struggled with his French, and the play was proofread and corrected by Marcel Schwob for its first performance, in Paris in 1896.

He held a doctorate in classic philology and oriental languages. His work pictures the Greco-Latin culture and the most scandalous characteristics of the romantic period. His stories catch the macabre, sadistic and the terrifying aspects in human beings and life.

In 1900 he married the actress Marguerite Moreno, whom he had met in 1895. His health was rapidly deteriorating, and in 1901 he travelled to Samoa, like his hero Stevenson, in search of a cure. On his return to Paris he lived the life of a recluse until his death in 1905. His death was precipitated by the effects of a syphilitic tumor in the rectum, resulting from his relations with a youth. (H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name; p.9 (Little, Brown; 1970)).



  • Cœur double ("Double Heart", 1891)
  • Le Roi au masque d’or ("The King in the Golden Mask", 1892)
  • Mimes (1893)
  • Le Livre de Monelle ("The Book of Monelle", 1894)
  • La croisade des enfants ("The Children's Crusade", 1896)
  • Vies imaginaires ("Imaginary Lives", 1896)
  • Two short stories: Les marionettes de l'amour and La femme comme Parangon d'art in the anthology Féminies (1896). These dramatic dialogs were retitled and rewritten as L'Amour, L'Art and L'Anarchie for Spicilège
  • La Porte des rêves (1899), collecting eleven stories selected from Cœur double, Le Roi au masque d’or and Le Livre de Monelle.
  • Jane Shore, a Drama in Five Acts (written with Eugène Morand ), (1901)
  • La lampe de Psyché (1903), collecting Mimes, La croisade des enfants, Le Livre de Monelle and L'Étoile de bois
  • Vie de Morphiel, demiurge an uncollected chapter of "Vies imaginaires"(1985)
  • Dialogues d'Utopie (2001)
  • Maua: an unpublished tale (2009)



Translations and Adaptations

Unfinished Projects

Ilustrated editions

Linking in in 2023

Adaptations of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bluebird of happiness, Burke and Hare murders, Charles Dantzig, Charles Whibley, Children's Crusade, Claude Cahun, Cœur double, Crates of Thebes, Cristian Crusat, Decadent movement, Étude sur l'argot français, Fantastique, Fleur Jaeggy, Francesca da Rimini, Francis Marion Crawford, Franco Leoni, Gabriel Pierné, Georges Crès, Hand of Glory, Hipparchia of Maroneia, I. M. Rașcu, Imaginary Lives, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Joseba Sarrionandia, Julio Torri, Léon Cahun, Léontine Lippmann, Linquo coax ranis, List of Crusades historians (19th century), List of early modern works on the Crusades, List of French-language authors, List of television operas, List of works influenced by One Thousand and One Nights, Louchébem, Marguerite Moreno, Maurice Schwob, Michael P. Daley, Norma Bessouet, Octave Mirbeau, One Thousand and One Nights, Paolo Uccello, Patrick McGuinness, Sarah Bernhardt, Schwob, Serlo of Wilton, Stede Bonnet, Stephen Romer, Symbolism (arts), The Sphinx (poem), Théâtre de la Ville, Ting, Wakefield Press (US), Weird fiction, Zeno (periodical)

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