His father, a professor of mathematics , was later appointed to a post in the college at Clermont-Ferrand , where Bourget received his early education. Between and , he produced a volume of verse, Au Bord de la Mer , which was followed by others, the last, Les Aveux , appearing in Meanwhile, he was making a name in literary journalism and in he published Essais de Psychologie Contemporaine , studies of eminent writers first printed in the Nouvelle Revue , and now brought together. Bourget, who had abandoned Catholicism in , began a gradual return to it in , fully converting only in In , in an interview he gave in America, he spoke about his changed views: "For many years I, like most young men in modern cities, was content to drift along in agnosticism , but I was brought to my senses at last by the growing realization that It is the story of philosopher Adrien Sixte, whose advocacy of materialism and positivism wields a terrible influence over an admiring but unstable student, Robert Geslon, whose actions, in turn, lead to the tragic death of a young woman.
Paul Bourget - Wikipedia
Having abandoned literary criticism for the psychological novel and novella, he had a determinative influence on an entire generation of young writers and readers, who eagerly awaited each of his books; many critics felt that he was destined to be remembered as one of the great novelists of the turn of the last century. Also of possible interest to American readers today is Outre-Mer, journals of his visit to the United States, a work derided in inimitable fashion by Mark Twain. As will soon become clear, for Bourget neither social nor personal corruption excludes the possibility of the highest aesthetic achievement. To read Les Fleurs du mal when one is seventeen, when one cannot recognize the element of mystification that transforms ideas in and of themselves merely exceptional into provocative paradoxes, is to enter a world of impressions previously unknown. There are spiritual guides more precise in their teachings than Baudelaire: Taine, for instance, and Henri Beyle [Stendhal]. There is none more suggestive or more fascinating.