June 29, 1809, Lyon, Fr.
died July 1859, Mostaganem, Alg.
French poet, novelist, and critic active
in the Romantic movement.
12th of an ironmonger’s 14 children,
Borel was trained as an architect but
turned to literature and became one of
the most eccentric young writers of the
1830s, assuming the name of
“Lycanthrope” (“Wolf-Man”). He became a
leader of the group of daring writers
known as Les Bousingos, among whom were
Gérard de Nerval and Théophile Gautier.
With the revival of interest in
classical style, he fell into poverty.
However, he was able to obtain a post in
the colonization of Algeria. Because of
his proud and touchy nature, he was
dismissed in 1855 and spent the rest of
his life, ragged and unkempt, in a
Gothic mansion in Mostaganem. His works,
redolent of horror and melodrama,
include Rhapsodies (1832), the short
stories in Champavert, contes immoraux
(1833; “Champavert, Immoral Stories”),
and Madame Putiphar (1839), with a verse
prologue that foreshadows the poet
Charles Baudelaire’s spiritual style.
Borel’s intensity, as an individual and
a writer, would later inspire the