Goncourt, Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Goncourt, Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de

Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de Goncourt (ĕdmôN´ lwē äNtwän´ üō´ də gôNkōōr´), 1822–96, and Jules Alfred Huot de Goncourt (zhül älfrĕd´), 1830–70, French authors. Brothers, they were known, for their close association in art and literature, as "les deux Goncourt." They began as artists, touring France in 1849 and keeping notes that were soon to turn them toward literature. They became art critics and historians of art, unsuccessful dramatists, promoters of Japanese art, and, in collaboration, the authors of a number of well-known novels of the naturalist school, including Sœur Philomène (1861), Renée Mauperin (1864, tr. 1887), Germinie Lacerteux (1864), Mme Gervaisais (1869), and a study, The Woman of the Eighteenth Century (1862, tr. 1927). In 1851 the brothers began the Journal des Goncourt (9 vol., 1887–96; tr. of selections by Lewis Galantière, 1937), an immensely successful publication devoted to an intimate account of Parisian society for 40 years. They affected an elaborate and contorted style, employed telegraphic brevity on occasion, and often selected subjects of sensational value. Their work paved the way for both naturalism and impressionism. After Jules's death Edmond wrote the novels La Fille Élisa (1877, tr. Elisa, 1959), Les Frères Zemganno (1879), and Chérie (1884). In his will Edmond provided for the founding of the Goncourt Academy (officially recognized 1903), which makes an annual award, the Goncourt Prize, for fiction.

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