M. Henri de Regnier gave the second of his lectures Saturday afternoon, on "Villiers de I' Isle Adam and the Poets in Prose."
Villiers de I' Isle Adam was held in great respect by the young school, who considered him as a living protest against the naturalistic tendencies of the time, and as the incarnation of idealism. Although he was well known and admired by the young writers of the idealistic school, he was almost unknown to the public, as were Verlaine and Mallarme.
The lecturer went on to speak of his first meeting with M. Villiers de I' Isle Adam, describing the man and his character. He told of his strange conversation, his terrible irony and deep scorn for his century, which replaced the cult of idealism by materialism. In nearly all his works are to be found these characteristic features. In his "Contes Cruels" and "Histoires Insolites," Villiers de I' Isle Adam is full of irony, especially in that stange "Tribulat Bonhouet."
In addition to these works, Villiers de I' Isle Adam also wrote "Eve Future," which is dedicated to dreamers as well as to scoffers. M. de Regnier discussed this work fully and also spoke of the belief of its author in the reality of the idea. For most of his life Villiers was in great poverty, and was almost unknown. Indifferent to his sufferings, however, he was able to rise above the miseries of his life, and proudly to live in the magical illusion of his dream.
After "Eve Future," Villiers published a volume of poetry and two dramas, "Morgane" and "Elene." Between 1870 and 1880, however, his literary efforts were limited to a work on the Independence of the United States, written for a literary competition. It was considered better than the work of any of the other competitors.
It was late in life that his well-merited success came to him. He published the new "Contes Cruels" and "Histories Insolites," but he died before he could reap the fruit of his labors leaving behind him a drama, "Azel," complete except for the finishing touches.
In conclusion, M. de Regnier said, "Villiers de I' Isle Adam has always strenuously defended the casuality of the ideal and the eternal cult of beauty.
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