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Saint-Marc Girardin

SAINT-MARC GIRARDIN (1801-1873), French politician and man of letters, whose real name was MARC GIRARDIN, was born in Paris on the 22nd of February 1801. After a brilliant university career in Paris he began in 1828 to contribute to the Journal des Debuts, on the staff of which he remained for nearly half a century. At the accession of Louis Philippe he was appointed professor of history at the Sorbonne and master of requests in the Conseil d'Etat. Soon afterwards he exchanged his chair of history for one of poetry, continuing to contribute political articles to the Debats, and sitting as deputy in the chamber from 1835 to 1848. He was charged in 1833 with a mission to study German methods of education, and issued a report advocating the necessity of newer methods and of technical instruction. In 1844 he was elected a member of the Academy. During the revolution of February 1848 Girardin was for a moment a minister, but after the establishment of the republic he was not re-elected deputy. After the war of 1870-71 he was returned to the Bordeaux assembly by his old department the Haute Vienne. His Orleanist tendencies and his objections to the republic were strong, and though he at first supported Thiers, he afterwards became a leader of the opposition to the president. He died, however, on the ist of April 1873 at Morsang-sur-Seine, before Thiers was actually driven from power.

His chief work is his Cours de litterature dramatique (1843-1863), a series of lectures better described by its second title De I'usage des passions dans le drame. The author examines the passions, discussing the mode in which they are treated in ancient and modern drama, poetry and romance. The book is really a defence of the ancients against the moderns, and Girardin did not take into account the fact that only the best of ancient literature hae come down to us. Against the Romanticists he waged untiring war. Among his other works may be noticed Essais de litterature (2 vols. 1844), made up chiefly of contributions to the Debats, his Notices sur I'Allemagne (1834), and many volumes of collected Souvenirs, Reflexions, etc., on foreign countries and passing events. His latest works of literary importance were La Fontaine et les Fabulistes (1867) and an Etude sur J.-J. Rousseau (1870) which had appeared in the Revue des deux mondes.

See Ch. Labitte, " Saint-Marc Girardin," in the Revue des deux mondes (Feb. 1845); Tamisier, Saint-Marc Girardin; etude lilteraire (1876); Hatzfield and Meunier, Les Critiques litteraires dit XIX' siede (1894).

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

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