Ernest Lavisse (en anglais)

RENE-NICHOLAS-MARIE BAZIN was born at Angers, December 26, 1853. He
studied for the bar, became a lawyer and professor of jurisprudence at
the Catholic University in his native city, and early contributed to ‘Le
Correspondant, L’Illustration, Journal des Debats, Revue du Deux Mondes,’
etc. Although quietly writing fiction for the last fifteen years or so,
he was not well known until the dawn of the twentieth century, when his
moral studies of provincial life under the form of novels and romances
became appreciated. He is a profound psychologist, a force in
literature, and his style is very pure and attractive. He advocates
resignation and the domestic virtues, yet his books are neither dull, nor
tiresome, nor priggish; and as he has advanced in years and experience M.
Bazin has shown an increasing ambition to deal with larger problems than
are involved for instance, in the innocent love-affairs of ‘Ma Tante
Giron’ (1886), a book which enraptured Ludovic Halevy. His novel, ‘Une
Tache d’Encre’ (1888), a romance of scholarly life, was crowned by the
French Academy, to which he was elected in 1903.

It is safe to say that Bazin will never develop into an author dangerous
to morals. His works may be put into the hands of cloistered virgins,
and there are not, to my knowledge, many other contemporary French
imaginative writers who could endure this stringent test. Some critics,
indeed, while praising him, scoff at his chaste and surprising optimism;
but it is refreshing to recommend to English readers, in these days of
Realism and Naturalism, the works of a recent French writer which do not
require maturity of years in the reader. ‘Une Tache d’Encre’, as I have
said, was crowned by the French Academy; and Bazin received from the same
exalted body the “Prix Vitet” for the ensemble of his writings in 1896,
being finally admitted a member of the Academy in June, 1903. He
occupies the chair of Ernest Legouve.

Bazin’s first romance, ‘Stephanette’, was published under the pseudonym
“Bernard Seigny,” in 1884; then followed ‘Victor Pavie (1887); Noellet
(1890); A l’Aventure (1891) and Sicile (1892)’, two books on Italy, of
which the last mentioned was likewise crowned by the French Academy; ‘La
Legende de Sainte-Bega (1892); La Sarcelle Bleue (1892); Madame Corentine
(1893); Les Italiens d’aujousd’hui (1894); Humble Amour (1894); En
Province (1896); De toute son Ame (1897)’, a realistic but moderate
romance of a workingman’s life; ‘Les Contes de Perrette (1898); La Terre
qui Meurt (1899); Le Guide de l’Empereur (1901); Les Oberle (1902), a
tale from Alsace of to-day, sketching the political situation,
approximately correct, and lately adapted for the stage; ‘Donatienne’
(1903).

With Bazin literary life does not become a mirage obscuring the vision of
real life. Before being an author Rene Bazin is a man, with a family
attached to the country, rooted in the soil; a guaranty of the dignity of
his work as well as of the writer, and a safeguard against many
extravagances. He has remained faithful to his province. He lives in
the attractive city of Angers. When he leaves it, it is for a little
tour through France, or a rare journey-once to Sicily and once to Spain.
He is seldom to be met on the Parisian boulevards. Not that he has any
prejudice against Paris, or fails to appreciate the tone of its society,
or the quality of its diversions; but he is conscious that he has nothing
to gain from a residence in the capital, but, on the contrary, would run
a risk of losing his intense originality and the freshness of his genius.

E. LAVISSE
de l’Academie Francaise.

Preface to THE INK STAIN

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