Alphonse Karr

Alphonse Karr

A carte-de-visite portrait of Alphonse Karr (1808-1890).

The critic, journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr was born in Paris on 24 November 1808. After being educated at the Collège Bourbon, he became a teacher there. Some of his novels, including his first, Sous les tilleuls (1832), were autobiographical romances. A second novel, Une heure trop tard, followed next year, and was succeeded by many other popular works. His Vendredi soir (1835) and Le Chemin le plus court (1836) continued the vein of autobiographical romance. Geneviève (1838) is one of his best stories, and his Voyage autour de mon jardin (1845) was deservedly popular. Others were Feu Bressier (1848), and Fort en thème (1853), which had some influence in stimulating educational reform.

In 1839 Alphonse Karr became editor of Le Figaro, to which he had been a constant contributor; and he also started a monthly journal, Les Guêpes, of a keenly satirical tone, a publication which brought him the reputation of a somewhat bitter wit. His epigrams are frequently quoted, for example ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ [‘the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing,’ usually translated as ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’]

In 1848 he founded Le Journal. In 1855 he went to live at Nice, where he indulged his passion for floriculture, and gave his name to more than one new variety. Indeed, he practically founded the trade in cut flowers on the French Riviera. He was also devoted to fishing, and in Les Soirées de Sainte-Adresse (1853) and Au bord de la mer (1860) he made use of his experiences. His reminiscences, Livre de bord, were published in 1879–1880.

Alphonse Karr died at Saint-Raphaël (Var) on 29 September 1890.

Photographed by Disdéri of Paris.


Code: 124333
© Paul Frecker 2022