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Le Petit Chose was the first significant work of nineteenth-century French author Alphonse Daudet, who based many of the events in the novel on his own life. The story follows the misfortunes of the main character, Daniel Eyssette, who is forced to abandon his studies when his family becomes impoverished. Daudet, a leading figure in the naturalist movement, is best remembered for his humorous portrayals of the people and life in southern France.