Claude Charles Fauriel - Encyclopedia

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CLAUDE CHARLES FAURIEL (1772-1844), French historian, philologist and critic, was born at St Etienne on the 21st of October 1772. Though the son of a poor joiner, he received a good education in the Oratorian colleges of Tournon and Lyons. He was twice in the army - at Perpignan in 1793, and in 1796-1797 at Briancon, as private secretary to General J. Servan de Gerbey (1741-1808); but he preferred the civil service and the companionship of his friends and his books. In 1794 he returned to St Etienne, where, but only for a short period, he filled a municipal office; and from 1797 to 1799 he devoted himself to strenuous study, more especially of the literature and history, both ancient and modern, of Greece and Italy. Having paid a visit to Paris in 1799, he was introduced to Fouche, minister of police, who induced him to become his private secretary. Though he discharged the duties of this office to Fouche's satisfaction, his strength was overtasked by his continued application to study, and he found it necessary in 1801 to recruit his health by a three months' trip in the south. In resigning his office in the following year he was actuated as much by these considerations as by the scruples he put forward in serving longer under Napoleon, when the latter, in violation of strict republican principles, became consul for life. This is clearly shown by the fragments of Memoirs discovered by Ludovic Lalanne and published in 1886.

Some articles which Fauriel published in the Decade philosophique (1800) on a work of Madame de Stael's - De la litterature consideree dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales - led to an intimate friendship with her. About 1802 he contracted with Madame de Condorcet a liaison which lasted till her death (1822). It was said of him at the time that he gave up all his energies to love, friendship and learning. The salon of Mme de Condorcet was throughout the Consulate and the first Empire a rallying point for the dissentient republicans. Fauriel was introduced by Madame de Stael to the literary circle of Auteuil, which gathered round Destutt de Tracy. Those who enjoyed his closest intimacy were the physiologist Cabanis (Madame de Condorcet's brother-in-law), the poet 1Vlanzoni, the publicist Benjamin Constant, and Guizot. Later Tracy introduced to him Aug. Thierry (1821) and perhaps Thiers and Mignet. During his connexion with Auteuil, Fauriel's attention was naturally turned to philosophy, and for some years he was engaged on a history of Stoicism, which was never completed, all the papers connected with it having accidentally perished in 1814. He also studied Arabic, Sanskrit and the old South French dialects. He published in 1810 a translation of the Parthenais of the Danish poet Baggesen, with a preface on the various kinds of poetry; in 1823 translations of two tragedies of Manzoni, with a preface "Sur la the orie de l'art dramatique"; and in 1824-1825 his translation of the popular songs of modern Greece, with a "Discours preliminaire" on popular poetry.

The Revolution of July, which put his friends in power, opened to him the career of higher education. In 1830 he became professor of foreign literature at the Sorbonne. The Histoire de la Gaule meridionale sous la domination des conquerants germains (4 vols., 1836) was the only completed section of a general history of southern Gaul which he had projected. In 1836 he was elected a member of the Academy of Inscriptions, and in 1837 he published (with an introduction the conclusions of which would not now all be endorsed) a translation of a Provencal poem on the Albigensian war. He died on the 15th of July 1844. After his death his friend Mary Clarke (afterwards Madame J. Mohl) published his Histoire de la litterature provencale (3 vols., 1846) - his lectures for 1831-1832. Fauriel was biased in this work by his preconceived and somewhat fanciful theory that Provence was the cradle of the chansons de geste and even of the Round Table romances; but he gave a great stimulus to the scientific study of Old French and Provencal. Dante et les origins de la langue et de la litterature italiennes (2 vols.) was published in 1854.

Fauriel's Memoires, found with Condorcet's papers, are in the Institute library. They were written at latest in 1804, and include some interesting fragments on the close of the consulate, Moreau, &c. Though anonymous, Lalanne, who published them (Les Derniers Jours du Consulat, 1886), proved them to be in the same handwriting as a letter of Fauriel's in 1803. The same library has Fauriel's correspondence, catalogued by Ad. Regnier (1900). Benjamin Constant's letters (1802-1823) were published by Victor Glachant in 1906. For Fauriel's correspondence with Guizot see Nouvelle Rev. (Dec. 1, 1901, by V. Glachant), and for his love-letters to Miss Clarke (1822-1844) the Revue des deux mondes (1908-1909) by E. Rod.) See further Sainte-Beuve, Portraits contemporains, ii.; Antoine Guillois, Le Salon de Mme Helvetius (1894) and La Marquise de Condorcet (1897); O'Meara, Un Salon a Paris: Mme Mohl (undated); and J. B. Galley, Claude Fauriel (1909).

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