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The Goncourt brothers were Edmond de Goncourt (1822-96) and Jules de Goncourt (1830-70), both Frenchmarker Naturalist writers. They formed a partnership that "is possibly unique in literary history. Not only did they write all their books together, they did not spend more than a day apart in their adult lives, until they were finally parted by Jules's death in 1870".

Their career as writers began with an account of a sketching holiday together. They published books on aspects of eighteenth-century French art and society (eg Portraits intimes du XVIII siecle), dismissing the vulgarity of the Second Empire in favour of a more refined age. They also wrote the long Journal des Goncourt from 1851, which gives an interesting view of the literary and social life of their time. They are often not only caustic, but even spiteful.

They published six novels, of which Germinie Lacerteux, 1865, was the fourth. It is based on the true case of their own maidservant, Rose Malingre, whose double life they had never suspected.

Their emphasis on pathological cases occasionally trumped their psychological delicacy, but their impressionist style nonetheless had an intense and original precision.


  • Germinie Lacerteux (1865)
  • Madame Gervaisais (1869)

  • Journal des Goncourt, 1851-1896
  • French Eighteenth Century Painters, 1859-1875


  1. Kirsch (2006)


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