Armand de Pontmartin

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Armand de Pontmartin, by Étienne Carjat

Armand Augustin Joseph Marie Ferrard, Comte de Pontmartin (16 July 1811 – 29 March 1890) was a French novelist, journalist, and one of the most eminent critics of the generation of 1830. He was called "Sainte-Beuve greatest rival."[1]


Pontmartin was born at Avignon (Vaucluse), France. He successfully completed his studies at the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris. After being awarded first prize for his latin composition in 1827, he attended a dinner alongside the Minister of Public Education, Vatimesnil.[2] Pontmartin subsequently entered Law School.

Attached, by family tradition, to the elder branch of the Bourbons, he returned to his province after the July Revolution and joined his mother (née Cambis d'Orsan), who was in a relationship of alliance and friendship with the first houses of the southern nobility.

Inspired by Legitimist ideas,[3] he began his career by attacking the Encyclopédistes and their liberal successors. He made his debut in the Gazette du Midi (1833–1838) and, after founding a monthly review, the Album d'Avignon,[4] he published his Causeries provinciales in La Quotidienne (1839–1842).

He then wrote short stories and novellas, first for La Mode and then, successively, for the Revue des deux Mondes, Opinion Publique, La Revue Contemporaine, and L'Assemblée Nationale (1843–1856) .

In the Assemblée nationale he published his Causeries Littéraires (1854) and Dernières Causeries Littéraires (1856),[nb 1] a series of attacks on prominent Liberals, which excited considerable remark.[5] Swinburne described him as "a man of great moral stature, having on every hand six fingers to fight with, if haply he may give the flesh of poets to the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field."[6]

Armand de Pontmartin

Pontmartin was an indefatigable journalist, and for twenty-three years he wrote the weekly feuilletons of the Gazette de France. Most of his tales and papers were republished, from the periodicals in which they first appeared, with such titles as Contes et reveries d'un planteur de choux (1845); Causeries du samedi (1857–1860); Nouveaux samedis (1865–1881). But the most famous of all his books is Les Jeudis de Mme. Charbonneau ("Thursdays of Madame Charbonneau"; 1862), which under the form of a novel offered a series of malicious and witty portraits of contemporary writers.

Pontmartin maintained a relationship of close friendship with the musicologist Joseph d'Ortigue. He was one of the fiercest critics of Honoré de Balzac,[7] making a veritable diatribe in 1856–57 against the whole of the work of the author of La Comédie humaine, where nothing found favor in his eyes.[nb 2]

Pontmartin died at the Chateau des Angles, near Avignon, on 29 March 1890.[5]



  • Mémoires d'un Notaire (1848)
  • Pourquoi Je Reste à la Campagne (1857)
  • Or et Clinquant (1859)
  • Les Jeudis de Madame Charbonneau (1862)
  • Entre Chien et Loup (1866)

Short stories and novellas

  • Contes et Rêveries d'un Planteur de Choux (1845)
  • Contes et Nouvelles (1853)
  • Le Fond de la Coupe (1854)

Works in English translation

  • "The Storytellers". In: Jean Alexander, Affidavits of Genius: Edgar Allan Poe and the French Critics, 1847-1924. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press (1971)



  1. Beum, Robert (1997). "Ultra-Royalism Revisited". Modern Age. XXXIX (3): 315–16. Fairminded, sagacious but fun-loving commentary on contemporary politically oriented historians, literary historians, and literary critics, always from a Legitimist point of view. [...] Neglected even in France and all but unknown among English readers, Pontmartin ranks with criticism's greatest stylists and soundest interpreters. His wit has depth and his judgments are fearless in a uniquely amiable way.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hutson, Charles Woodward (1889). A History of French Literature. New York: John B. Alden. pp. 329–30. His religious, moral, and political character remains steadfast in its attachment to the old principles of the aristocratic race to which he belongs. His style is rich, animated, flexible, and impassioned. His literary criticism is keen and earnest, based upon great underlying principles which force him to condemn much that he admits to be forcible and seductive. To Balzac he objects that his art is morbid and corrupting, and that he destroys pure and noble illusions; to Victor Hugo, that he stirs up animosity between class and class, and that his genius is too often delirious; to Sainte-Beuve, that he lacks genuineness, has no convictions, and is a time-server, unhappy, irascible, and sour in temper beneath his fine phrases. There is bitter satire in all this, but enough of truth to have made it very telling.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Hutson, Charles Woodward (1889). A History of French Literature. New York: John B. Alden. p. 329.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Jeanroy-Félix, Victor (1889). Nouvelle Histoire de la Littérature Française sous le Second Empire et la Troisième Republique. Paris: Bloud et Barral. p. 445.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Beum 1997
  4. Bellanger, Claude; Godechot, Jacques; Guiral, Pierre; Terrou, Fernand, eds. (1969). Histoire Générale de la Presse Française. 2. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. p. 187.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Pontmartin, Armand Augustin Joseph Marie Ferrard, Comte de" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 67.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Swinburne, Algernon Charles (1867). "Mr. Arnold's New Poems". The Fortnightly Review. VIII (10): 443.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Vachon, Stéphane (1999). Honoré de Balzac. Paris: Presses Universitaires Paris-Sorbonne. pp. 177–90.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. Also see Vachon, Stéphane (2000). "Gloire et Immortalité Balzaciennes". L'Année Balzacienne. 20. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. pp. 333–57.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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External links