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Van Gogh inscribed Sorrow with the words "Comment se fait-il qu'il y ait sur la terre une femme seule?", which translates to How can there be on earth a woman alone, abandoned? from "La Femme"

L'Insecte followed. It was succeeded by L'Amour (1859), one of the author's most popular books. These remarkable works, half pamphlets half moral treatises, succeeded each other as a rule at the twelve months' interval, and the succession was almost unbroken for five or six years. L'Amour was followed by La Femme (1860), a book on which a whole critique of French literature and French character might be founded. Vincent van Gogh used a quote from La Femme on his drawing Vincent van Gogh used a quote from La Femme on his drawing Sorrow.

Then came La Mer (1861), a return to the natural history class, which, considering the powers of the writer and the attraction of the subject, is perhaps a little disappointing. The next year (1862) the most striking of all Michelet's minor works, La Sorcière, made its appearance. Developed out of an episode of the history, it has all its author's peculiarities in the strongest degree. It is a nightmare and nothing more, but a nightmare of the most extraordinary verisimilitude and poetical power.

This remarkable series, every volume of which was a work at once of imagination and of research, was not even yet finished, but the later volumes exhibit a certain falling off. The ambitious Bible de l'humanité (1864), a historical sketch of religions, has little merit. In La Montagne (1868), the last of the natural history series, the tricks of staccato style are pushed even farther than by Victor Hugo in his less inspired moments, though—as is inevitable, in the hands of such a master of language as Michelet—the effect is frequently grandiose if not gr

Then came La Mer (1861), a return to the natural history class, which, considering the powers of the writer and the attraction of the subject, is perhaps a little disappointing. The next year (1862) the most striking of all Michelet's minor works, La Sorcière, made its appearance. Developed out of an episode of the history, it has all its author's peculiarities in the strongest degree. It is a nightmare and nothing more, but a nightmare of the most extraordinary verisimilitude and poetical power.

This remarkable series, every volume of which was a work at once of imagination and of research, was not even yet finished, but the later volumes exhibit a certain falling off. The ambitious Bible de l'humanité (1864), a historical sketch of religions, has little merit. In La Montagne (1868), the last of the natural history series, the tricks of staccato style are pushed even farther than by Victor Hugo in his less inspired moments, though—as is inevitable, in the hands of such a master of language as Michelet—the effect is frequently grandiose if not grand. Nos fils (1869), the last of the string of smaller books published during the author's life, is a tractate on education, written with ample knowledge of the facts and with all Michelet's usual sweep, and range of view, if with visibly declining powers of expression. But in a book published posthumously, Le Banquet, these powers reappear at their fullest. The picture of the industrious and famishing populations of the Riviera is (whether true to fact or not) one of the best things that Michelet has done. To complete the list of his miscellaneous works, two collections of pieces, written and partly published at different times, may be mentioned. These are Les Soldats de la révolution and Legendes démocratiques du nord.

Michelet's Origines du droit français, cherchées dans les symboles et les formules du droit universel was edited by Émile Faguet in 1890 and went into a second edition in 1900.

The publication of this series of books, and the completion of his history, occupied Michelet during both decades of the empire. He lived partly in France, partly in Italy, and was accustomed to spend the winter on the Riviera, chiefly at Hyères.

At last, in 1867, the great work of his life, Histoire de France, was finished. In the usual edition it fills nineteen volumes. The first of these deals with the early history up to the death of Charlemagne, the second with the flourishing time of feudal France, the third with the 13th century, the fourth, fifth, and sixth with the Hundred Years' War, the seventh and eighth with the establishment of the royal power under Charles VII and Louis XI. The 16th and 17th centuries have four volumes apiece, much of which is very distantly connected with French history proper, especially in the two volumes entitled Renaissance and Reforme. The last three volumes carry on the history of the 18th century to the outbreak of the Revolution.

Michelet abhorred the Middle Ages, and celebrated their end as a radical transformation. He tried to explain how a dynamic Renaissance could emerge from fossilized medieval culture.[5][6]

Themes

Michelet has several themes running throughout his works, these included the following three categories: Maleficent, Beneficent, and Paired. Within each of the three themes there are subsets of ideas that occur throughout Michelet's various works. One of these themes was the idea of Paired Themes, for example in many of his works he writes on Grace and Justice, Grace being the Woman or Feminine and Justice being more of a Masculine idea. Michelet, additionally, used Union and Unity in his discussions about National Hist

Michelet abhorred the Middle Ages, and celebrated their end as a radical transformation. He tried to explain how a dynamic Renaissance could emerge from fossilized medieval culture.[5][6]

Michelet has several themes running throughout his works, these included the following three categories: Maleficent, Beneficent, and Paired. Within each of the three themes there are subsets of ideas that occur throughout Michelet's various works. One of these themes was the idea of Paired Themes, for example in many of his works he writes on Grace and Justice, Grace being the Woman or Feminine and Justice being more of a Masculine idea. Michelet, additionally, used Union and Unity in his discussions about National History, and Natural History. In terms of the Maleficent themes, there were subcategories these were: Themes of the Dry, which included concepts such as: The Machine, The Jesuits, Scribes, The Electric, Irony (Goethe), The Scholastics, Public Safety, fatalism (Hobbes, Molinos, Spinoza, Hegel). Themes of the Empty and the Turgid, which included the Middle Ages, the imitation, tedium, the novel, narcotics, Alexander, plethoric (engorged blood). Michelet also touches on Themes of the Indeterminate such as The Honnete-Hommes, Conde', Chantilly Sade, Gambling, Phantasmorgia, Italian Comedy, White Blood, Sealed blood.[7]

Academic reception

Uncomprom

Uncompromisingly hostile as Michelet was to the empire, its downfall in 1870 in the midst of France's defeat by Prussia and the rise and fall of the Paris Commune during the following year once more stimulated him to activity. Not only did he write letters and pamphlets during the struggle, but when it was over he set himself to complete the vast task which his two great histories had almost covered by a Histoire du XIXe siècle. He did not, however, live to carry it farther than the Battle of Waterloo, and the best criticism of it is perhaps contained in the opening words of the introduction to the last volume—"l'âge me presse" ("age hurries me"). The new republic was not altogether a restoration for Michelet, and his professorship at the Collège de France, of which he always contended he had been unjustly deprived, was not given back to him. He was also a supporter of the Romanian National Awakening movements.

Grave

Upon his death from a he

Upon his death from a heart attack at Hyères on 9 February 1874, Michelet was interred there. At his widow's request, a Paris court granted permission for his body to be exhumed on 13 May 1876. On 16 May, his coffin arrived for reburial at Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Michelet's monument there, designed by architect Jean-Louis Pascal, was erected in 1893 through public subscription.[8]

FamilyHis second wife, Athénaïs Michelet, who survived him, had been a teacher in St. Petersburg. She opened a correspondence with him arising from her ardent admiration of his ideas, and they became engaged before they had seen each other. She assisted him in his labors and was preparing a new work, La nature, at the time of his death.[9]

Bibliography