September 09, 2010

François Coppée - Alexis Orsat : a long friendship

Francois Coppée (1842-1908), poet who first knew success as a playwriter, lived during his lifetime recognition of his peers. Archivist at the Comédie Française, he entered the Académie Française in 1884. Mocked by the "poètes maudits" who denounced his classic, simple and populist style, François Coppée was nevertheless appreciated by the little people he liked to describe lives.
Bachelor who stayed with his mother, Francois Coppée was a socialite. Little wonder then that he befriended Alexis Orsat (1837-1906), a civil servant as Coppée used to be. The poet dedicated to Orsat the poem "A Son" in one of his first collections, Les Humbles (the Modests), published in 1872. Coppée also made him meet with J.-K. Huysmans with whom Orsat liked to go to diners of the parisian suburb. Alexis Orsat is well known in the universe of bibliophilia because a lot of the authors from the period - Zola, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Maupassant, autographed some of theirs first editions to him.
For the funeral oration of his friend, Françoise Coppée wrote:
"Orsat was, you know, a very useful and conscientious servant of the state (...) But, I'm not afraid to say it, our friend was superior to his fate, and it is a pity that his faculties were not be deployed in a larger and more free space. Everywhere, he could have been part of the elite, especially in the letters he loved with passion and which gave him the greatest joys of life. "

Currently, la librairie Loliée propose :
  • Coppée (François). Les Récits et élégies. Récits épiques - L’Exilée - Les Mois - Jeunes Filles. Paris, Alphonse Lemerre, 1878, in-12, covers. Edition with some texts published for the first time. Copy with a autograph dedication to Alexis Orsat.
  • Coppée (François). Paroles prononcées par M. François Coppée sur la tombe de son ami Alexis Orsat. S.l. [Paris], s.é [Lemerre], 8 novembre 1906, booklet in-8, covers. First edition of this text pronounced by Coppée at Orsat's funeral.