Skip to content


May 15, 2022

Is the synonym for a hack, hatchet man, scribbler or the real thing, someone who is a  -GHOSTWRITER.

Important books today would not have existed without their handle, the ghostwriter.

Octave Mirbeau: Born 16 February 1848 Trévières, France  Died 16 February 1917 (aged 69)  Paris, France   

Octave Mirbeau was a well-known playwright and novelist during the 19th century. While serving in the army, he became disillusioned by war, instead beginning to apply himself to writing.

The political firebrand, tireless reformer, champion of the avant-garde was also a GHOSTWRITER.  Octave Mirbeau embraced his role as disturber of the peace, he ghost-wrote at least 10 novels including three for the Swiss writer Dora Melegari who wrote in both French and Italian. 

Dorette (nickname, “Dora”) Melegari  was Born: 27 June 1849, Lausanne, Switzerland

Died: 31 July 1924, Rome, Italy

Her book Makers of Sorrow and Makers of Joy was translated by Marian Lindsay. She wrote under the pen name of Thomas Emery.

Octave made his own literary debut with Le Calvaire (Calvary, 1886), in which writing allowed him to overcome the traumatic effects of his devastating liaison with the ill-reputed Judith Vinmer (1858-1951), renamed Juliette Roux in the novel.  

The Calvary is a largely autobiographical novel, in which Mirbeau romanticizes his devastating affair with a woman of dubious morals, Judith Vinmer, who appears as “Juliette Roux” in the novel.

The story is narrated in the first person by the main character, the antihero Jean Mintie, who has literary ambition and the potential to become a good writer, is however incapable of overcoming his sexual obsessions.  Victimized by a woman and reduced to a state of humiliated impotence, he tries to transform his suffering into an impulse to create. His redemptive passion is modeled on the Passion of Christ! Excerpt: “I was born one evening in October at Saint-Michel-les-Hêtres, a small town in the department of Orne, and I was immediately christened by the name of Jean-François-Marie-Mintié.”

Creativity for Mirbeau fertilizes un jardin des supplices, a cemetery smoldering with decomposing texts that are resolved into their constituent parts and then reemerge in different guises – Robert Zeigler

In his 1888 novel, L’Abbé Jules, Mirbeau’s main character is a priest who rebels against Catholicism. The novel explores the repressive and abusive role religion plays in human life.

Abbe Jules, is the second part of Octave Mirbeau’s autobiographical trilogy and tells the story of a priest’s lifelong struggle with his passions. Narrated from the viewpoint of a small boy, it depicts the stifling atmosphere of petit bourgeois, provincial France, where family, education and religion conspire to produce individuals tortured by repressed desire, violent fantasies and forbidden lusts. Innocence is corrupted, pity and pain are inextricably linked in a novel which shows the influence of Naturalism, in its brutally realistic descriptions which echo Zola and Flaubert, side by side with passages of great lyricism and sensuality, as Mirbeau exercises the impressionist skills of Monet and Van Gogh. ‘To see Mirbeau at his best one should turn to his second novel Abbe Jules.‘ – Peter Fawcett in The Times Literary Supplement

Wherever it appears, civilisation shows this face of sterile blood and forever dead ruins.

“The universe appears to me like an immense, inexorable torture-garden. … Passions, greed, hatred, and lies; social institutions, justice, love, glory, heroism, and religion: these are its monstrous flowers and its hideous instruments of eternal human suffering.”

—from Mirbeau’s novel “Le Jardin des supplices” (The Torture Garden), 1899

Written in 1899, The Torture Garden (Le Jardin des supplices) is a unique mix of philosophical writing and sexual terror, which brings together a mind-blowing experience.

Published at the height of the Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jewish officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was convicted of sharing French military secrets with Germany. Later investigations proved his innocence, causing the focus to shift more towards the anti-Semitic undertones within the French military. Although described as ‘pornographic’ and ‘most sickening’ by critics at the time, this book provides the reader with so much more than cheap sex and gruesome imagery.

The Torture Garden is a tour de force of nature, leading the observer through a balanced passage of life at its very best; both incredibly beautiful, and incredibly vicious. – Kristopher Cook

Mirbeau’s critiques of society seethe with indictments of indoctrinating agencies: the family, which stifled the child’s freedom and expressive creativity, the school, which besotted students with the aridity of its curriculum, the army, which privileged patriotism over the sanctity of life, the church, which sanctified suffering, perverted instinct, and alienated the faithful from nature. Yet Mirbeau shared the admiration of fin-de-siècle zealots for the pariahs, tramps, and beggars rehabilitated in the Scripture. The personal trials of the misbegotten became an insignia of election. Those marginalized by society experienced damnation here below yet had glimpses of the bliss they hoped might await them somewhere higher.

Yet it was not just in the less fortunate that Mirbeau sought evidence of the supra-rational. Generally neglected by critics, Mirbeau’s interest in the unknown and the inexpressible informed virtually all of his writing and helped shape his views on artistic work and political struggle. – Robert Ziegler

Born: 9 December 1842, Moscow, Russia

Died: 8 February 1921, Dmitrov, Russia

Born into an aristocratic land-owning family, Kropotkin attended a military school and later served as an officer in Siberia, where he participated in several geological expeditions. He was imprisoned for his activism in 1874 and managed to escape two years later. He spent the next 41 years in exile in SwitzerlandFrance (where he was imprisoned for almost four years) and England. While in exile, he gave lectures and published widely on anarchism and geography

Inspired by Kropotkine and Dostoyevsky, Mirbeau became the social conscience of the era, speaking in a clear voice to impugn capitalist ideology, to defend the cause of the worker, the child, the pauper, the prostitute, and the soldier sacrificed as cannon fodder.

“There is always something missing that torments me.” —  Camille Claudel


The Ghostwriter and art critic, Mirabeau fought in the name of the “great gods of his heart”: in particular, became the champion of Auguste Rodin , Claude Monet , Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne , Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard , in more to discover the talent or the genius of Vincent van Gogh, Camille Claudel , Aristide Maillol and Maurice Utrillo.

Mirbeau lies buried in the Passy Cemetery, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

It’s no picnic up there in the egosphere.

Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer

  1. Ghostwriting is I think pretty common today. Famous celebrities have such busy schedules and yet, the clamor for bits of their life story fuel such missives.

    A wonderful share. I’ve not read any of these works. Thanknyou for the introduction.

    • Wow, yes, you make a great connection for me Poet. My mind never travelled to modern day celebrities, but you are spot on, he indulged the celebrities of his era through his writings. Thank you for sharing that point. If i look in the political hemisphere alone, mountains of books are written about their lives.
      It’s really a special gift.

      I’m happy you liked it, thank you for reading. There is so much history contained in this man and his writings, it was difficult to collate all the information.
      You are most welcome

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: