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P. B. Gheusi (1865–1943)

Author of The Last Days of Atlantis

Includes the names: Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi, Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi

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Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi was born on November 21, 1865, in Toulouse, France. He studied in Castres and in Toulouse. In 1887-1889, he worked on the revue Le Décadent littéraire et artistique, where he wrote under the pseudonym Norbert Lorédan, but his literary career stalled and he went into politics.

Gheusi was well connected. Among his friends, associates, and supporters were scholar François de Vesian, politician Jean Jaurès, poet and essayist Laurent Tailhade, musician Georges Pierfitte, author Émile Zola, and poet Catulle Mendès. In 1889, Gheusi joined the political campaign of Jaurès in Castres. For several years after that, he held government posts, including in Rheims. In 1894, Gheusi relocated to Paris. In that same year, he married Adrienne Willems, niece of the painter Florent Willems. In 1897, Gheusi made an inspection tour of the Christian schools in Palestine. In 1906, he held a post at le Ministère des Colonies. And in 1911, he served as a diplomat in working to restore relations between France and Venezuela.

From 1888 to 1931, Gheusi wrote works for the stage, including lyrics, libretti, dramas, and comedies. He also authored histories and other works of non-fiction. His first novel was Gaucher Myrian, vie aventureuse d'un escholier féodal. Salamanque, Toulouse et Paris au XIIIe siècle, written with Paul Lavigne and published in 1893. Eleven more novels followed, the last of which, La Fille de Monte-Cristo, was published posthumously in 1948. I have not read any of his books and know nothing about them except for their titles. At least two have titles suggesting genre fiction, however, Le Serpent de mer, roman à clés (The Sea Serpent, a "key novel," 1899) and Les Atlantes, aventures de temps légendaires (The Atlanteans, Adventures of Legendary Times, with Charles Lomon, 1905). As it turns out, Les Atlantes is a fantasy, and it has recently been reprinted. (See below.)

In later years, Gheusi held various positions of directorship or editorship, including of Le Gaulois du dimanche (1897), Nouvelle Revue (1899), le Paris Opéra (1906, 1914), l'Opéra Comique (to 1918), le Théâtre Lyrique du Vaudeville (1919–1920), Le Figaro (to 1932), and again l'Opéra-Comique (to 1936). During World War I, he was on the staff of General Joseph Gallieni. Gheusi also used his castle near Biarritz as a hospital for French troops.

The life of Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi was very nearly bracketed by German invasions of his native land. The Franco-Prussian War broke out when he was only four years old and ended not long after his fifth birthday with a humiliating defeat for the French. (His distant cousin, Léon Gambetta, was a leading figure during the war.) Sixty-nine years later, Germans reentered France and again dealt it a humiliating defeat, worse than in his childhood. He would not live to see his country liberated. Gheusi died on January 30, 1943, in Paris.
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