Antoine De Rivarol - Encyclopedia


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ANTOINE DE RIVAROL (1753-1801), French writer and epigrammatist, was born at Bagnols in Languedoc on the 26th of June 1753, and died at Berlin on the 11th of April 1801. It seems that his father was an innkeeper but a man of cultivated tastes. The son assumed the title of comte de Rivarol, and asserted his connexion with a noble Italian family, but his enemies said that the name was really Riverot, and that the family was not noble. After various vicissitudes he appeared in Paris in 1777. After winning some academic prizes, Rivarol distinguished himself in the year 1784 by a treatise Sur l'universalite de la langue francaise, and by a translation of the Inferno. The year before the Revolution broke out he, with some assistance from a man of similar but lesser talent, Champcenetz, 2 compiled a lampoon, entitled Petit Almanach de nos grands hommes pour 1788, in which some writers of actual or future talent and a great many nobodies were ridiculed in the most pitiless manner. When the Revolution developed the importance of the press, Rivarol at once took up arms on the Royalist side, and wrote in the Journal politique of Antoine Sabatier de Castres (1742-1817) and the Actes des Apdtres of Jean Gabriel Peltier (1770-1825). But he emigrated in 1792, and established himself at Brussels, whence he removed successively to London, Hamburg and Berlin. Rivarol has had no rival in France except Piron in sharp conversational sayings. These were mostly ill-natured, and mostly have a merely local application. Their brilliancy, however, can escape no one. His brother, Claude Francois (1762-1848), was also an author. His works include Isman, ou le fatalisme (1795), a novel; Le Vdridique (1827), comedy; Essai sur les causes de la rdvolution francaise (1827).

The works of Antoine de Rivarol were published in five volumes (Paris, 1805); selections (Paris, 1858) with introductory matter by Sainte-Beuve and others, and that edited in 1862 (2nd ed., 1880) by M. de Lescure, may be specified. See also M. de Lescure's Rivarolet la socidtd francaise pendant la re'volution et l'dmigration (1882), and Le Breton's Rivarol, sa vie, ses idles (1895).

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