Marcel Schwob  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

(Mayer André) Marcel Schwob, French writer, was born in Chaville on 23 August 1867, died on 12 February 1905. He was the brother of Maurice Schwob and uncle of Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob).

In 1884 he 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


  • Sylvain Goudemare, Marcel Schwob ou les vies imaginaires. Paris: Le Cherche Midi, 2000.

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