A GREAT MANY BOOKS have been written about Debussy and his music -- mostly about his music -- but none as detailed as Léon Vallas ' Claude Debussy et son temps published in 1932. This volume, long out of print and available only in libraries, served as the basis for all subsequently written biographies, including a second Debussy biography by Vallas published during the German occupation and therefore a slightly altered portrayal of the man; otherwise, it was distinguished only by its smaller size. All these works d'après the first Vallas, although more readable, suffer from some of its inaccuracies as well as incompleteness.
This is easily explained. The three volumes of Debussy correspondence (with Robert Godet and Jean Aubry, with Pierre LouŸs, and with d'Annunzio), René Peter's revised and more complete Claude Debussy, Eugène YsaŸe biography, Valléry-Radot Souvenirs de Claude Debussy, Mary Garden's Story, and many articles in newspapers and periodicals which throw a new light on the life of the composer, were not published until the last war and even later. If nothing new has been added to the analysis of his music -- nothing was "discovered" -- the complete picture of Debussy's personal life became available only with the newly published material.
My portrait, I admit, differs from the accepted Debussy legend. But I hope that my readers will judge the man for what he has given the world as much as for what he took from it.
V. I. S.