(1848–1917). French journalist, art critic, and novelist. His trajectory from extreme Right to anarchist Left is a microcosm of the complex politics of the bourgeois intellectual in 1880s France. His autobiographical novels, Le Calvaire (1887), L'Abbé Jules (1888), and Sébastien Roch (1890), trace his disillusionment with authoritarian Catholic ideology and the state which it supports. Le Jardin des supplices (1899), a brilliant account of decadent sadism, is an ironic analysis of power relations in contemporary society, showing how individual imagination is drafted into the service of collective oppression. The racy sexuality of Le Journal d'une femme de chambre (1900) is also an exposé of the ideology of the Dreyfus era and the violence below the surface of conservative order.
From The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French in Oxford Reference.