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Amiel, Henri Frederic

AMIEL, HENRI FREDERIC (1821-1881), Swiss philosopher and critic, was born at Geneva on the 27th of September 1821. He was descended from a Huguenot family driven to Switzerland by the revocation of the edict of Nantes. Losing his parents at an early age, he travelled widely, became intimate with the intellectual leaders of Europe and made a special study of German philosophy in Berlin. In 1849 he was appointed professor of aesthetics at the academy of Geneva, and in 1854 became professor of moral philosophy. These appointments, conferred by the democratic party, deprived him of the support of the aristocratic party; which comprised nearly all the culture of the city. This isolation inspired the one book by which Amiel lives, the Journal Intime, which, published after his death, obtained a European reputation. It was translated into English by Mrs Humphry Ward. Although second-rate as regards productive power, Amiel's mind was of no inferior quality, and his journal gained a sympathy which the author had failed to obtain in his life. In addition to the Journal, he produced several volumes of poetry and wrote studies on Erasmus, Madame de Stael and other writers. He died in Geneva on the 11th of March 1881. His chief poetical works are Grains de mil, Il penseroso, Part du reve, Les Etrangeres, Charles le Temeraire, Romancero historique, Jour a jour.

See Life of Amiel by Mdlle Berthe Vadier (Paris, 1885); Paul Bourget, Nouveaux essais (Paris, 1885); E. Scherer, introd. to the Journal and in Etudes sur la litt. contemp. (vol. viii.).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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