Les grands artists n’ont pas de patrie


French writer Alfred de Musset was born on December 11, 1810 in Paris. His parents moved in the right social circles, despite having very little money. Musset attended the prestigious collège Henri IV where he won a prize for Latin. He tried his hand at medicine, but gave it up when he found he didn’t have the stomach for dissection. In short order, he dabbled in law, drawing, English, and piano before settling on writing. When he was only 20, he published Contes d’Espagne et d’Italie (Tales of Spain and Italy) and fame followed. Like his father, Musset held various government positions to supplement his income as a writer.

MussetHe had lots of material to write about based on his love affair with George Sand (a.k.a. Aurore Dupin), which inspired his autobiographical novel La Confession d’un Enfant du Siècle (The Confession of a Child of the Century). In a radio broadcast about the famous couple that I listened to with my students this year, Sand was even unfaithful to him with his own doctor when he was seriously ill! Céline Dion recorded a song entitled “Lettre de George Sand à Alfred de Musset” that focused on the pleasanter parts of their relationship.

Musset was awarded the Légion d’Honneur and he was also elected to the Académie Française. He died in his sleep on May 2, 1857 due to a combination of alcoholism and a heart condition. Musset’s characteristically bobbing head was a sign of his aortic insufficiency and this has become known as de Musset’s sign.


Today’s phrase, “Les grands artists n’ont pas de patrie,” (lay grahnz arteest nohn pah duh patree) which means “Great artists have no country.” France, however, is pretty pleased to claim Musset as its own.

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
This entry was posted in Literature and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Les grands artists n’ont pas de patrie

  1. Ioana says:

    i love your blog, it’s so useful for learning the day-to-day words that aren’t really taught in school.
    i was just wondering if you might have meant ‘les grands artists n’ont pas de patrie’ (it makes slightly more sense to me, but i’m not sure if it’s right).
    happy holidays!

  2. Pingback: L’impossible est le refuge des poltrons | One quality, the finest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s