The Confession of a Child of the Century

The Confession of a Child of the Century


Recently made into a film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Pete Doherty and Lily Cole, this French novel of love and betrayal is now available in a new English translation for the first time in over a hundred years.

Inspired by his scandalous real-life affair with the flamboyant woman who called herself George Sand, Alfred de Musset's Confession is a searingly honest, passionate account of a young man's rite of passage. It tells the story of Octave, desperate to be more than an 'average man', who searches for happiness first as a debauched libertine, until his mistress Elise is unfaithful, and then in an austere life in the countryside, where he falls in love with the selfless Brigitte. But as he becomes consumed by insane jealousy and convinced that Brigitte will betray him, Octave brings about his own destruction. A vivid, opulent portrayal of obsession and despair, this is also a philosophical portrait of a man and his times, expressing the failed idealism of the Romantic generation of the early nineteenth century.

David Coward's vibrant translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing de Musset's affair with Sand and his work's place in the confessional genre. This edition contains a chronology, notes and further reading.


  • Confession of a Child of the Century is not only a searingly honest self-portrait but a portrait of a whole generation...Musset's self-lashing memoir is a defence of human and spiritual values to which he could only aspire. He never reformed and never again wrote anything as good
    David Coward

About the author

Alfred de Musset

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