Mr. Copeland delivered a most interesting lecture last evening on Zola, Maupassant, Alphonse Daudet, Bourget and other French novelists.
Zola, said Mr. Copeland, in his accumulation of details may be called a realist, but in his massing of movements and men, he is certainly an idealist, but an idealist whose ideals were of the mud rather than of the sky. In one of his works he has taken the family of Bougon Macquart and carried them on through one book after another in all their adventures, a thing which no writer since Balsac has attempted, and by this means he gives a back-ground of the world and time which most modern French writers fail to do.
Alphonse Daudet has everything that Zola has not, wit, humor, gaiety and facility. Zola himself said of him that he possessed every quality except strength, and that he gained as he went on. For many years he was under the influence of Dickens, and while under his influhe wrote Delobelle, who was formed after one of the characters of Dickens. In all his qualities he was very variable, and one could never know when he would be at his best and when at his worst.
Maupassant was the pupil of Flaubert, but while his teacher was forever striving after fine phrases, Maupassant endeavored throughout his works to acquire the simplest style he could. He was incomparably powerful in his short stories. In his longer works, his masterpiece is undoubtedly "Pierre et Jean," which is done with an artistic conscience. It is one of the few masterpieces of modern French literature.
Maupassant shows some signs of occupying himself with the soul and this brings us to Bourget, who is ever preoccupied with the soul.
Mr. Copeland will give the next lecture of his course in Sever 11 on the 9th of April.