Lamartine, une figure internationale (ESSAI ET DOC) (French Edition)

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Alphonse de Lamartine - Wikiwand

Full text of " The life of Lamartine " See other formats r-; '. The thread of his material and psy- chological existence meanders through the volumes of "Les Confidences," "Les Nouvelles Confidences," the pages of his first and second Oriental "Voyages," the " Memoires politiques," and the "History of the Revolu- tion of Even " Jocelyn" is a portrait, albeit a shadowy one. And yet, paradoxical as it may appear, these thousands of personal "revelations" tend in reality to confuse and obscure an appreciation of the flesh and blood Lamartine. Also Confidences, p.

He was candour, almost naivete, itself. He was merely constitutionally incapable of segregating fact and fancy: what he saw and what he wanted to see be- came inextricably interwoven in his brain. As one of his biographers has put it: "Lamartine was certainly one of those men who, unconsciously and without premedita- tion, possess in the highest degree the faculty of inex- actitude. A great man, in most senses of the qualification, an undeniably great poet and writer, a conscientious and honest statesman, Lamartine was, withal, an incor- rigible visionary, an altruist whose persistent optimism resulted in the gradual dilapidation of his private for- tune and the eclipse of his political influence.

Yet never in the darkest days of political or pecuniary adversity could his honour or personal probity be im- pugned. With Shakespeare one can proclaim: " Not only through the medium of their books, but in personal let- 1 Charles de Mazade, Lamartine, p.


Paris, With warmest thanks I acknowledge my debt to: M. Jean des Cognets, whose publication of fragments of J. Dargaud's journal, under the title of La Vie interieure de Lamartine, has contributed so greatly to our psychological appreciation of the great French poet; to M. Pierre de Lacretelle, in whose Origines et la Jeunesse de Lamartine many interesting family documents are published for the first time; to M. Auguste Dorchain, whose learning in Lamartinian lore is surpassed by none; to M.

Sugier, author of the captivating study Lamar- tine, etude morale; and to the late Pierre Maurice Mas- son, professor of French Literature at the University of Fribourg, whose death in the trenches has cast a gloom over the intellectual world of France and Switzerland. Nor can I omit mention of the friendly guidance and the valuable advice I have received from my colleague, M.

Durault, permanent secretary of the Academic de Macon, whose learned studies, together with those of M. L6once Lex, archivist of the Departement de Sadne et Loire, have been of the greatest utility to me in tracing the earlier domestic and local history of the Lamartines and their country neighbours.

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Henri de Riaz has made curious literary discoveries concerning the identity of "Lucy L ," and was in- strumental in putting me on the track which ultimately led to the elucidation of the mystery of Lamartine's "Manage 1'anglaise," a problem which had hitherto baffled Lamartinians. The late Leon Sech, who had specialized on the lit- erary history of the Romanticists, devoted numerous studies to Lamartine and his entourage.

Often some- ix PREFACE what indiscreet, it must be confessed, in his relentless probing into private life, Sche at least had the merit of absolute sincerity.

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Moreover, his "portraits" are flesh-and- blood presentments of the men and women of the Romantic era, and as such of deepest interest to the searcher. Across the gulf I transmit my thanks to the man who, whatever his literary shortcomings may have been, was one of the most ardent knights of the pen I ever met, and one to whom no personal sacrifice was too onerous when made in the sacred name of Literature. Madame de Canson, the daughter of Lamartine's relative and political henchman, G. To other members of the Lamartine family, especially Madame de Parseval, ne de Pierreclos, of Meicon, and to Monsieur and Madame de Montherot, of the Chateau de Saint-Point, I am indebted for like favours combined with charming hospitality.

To my friend, Mr. William Roscoe Thayer, I extend expressions of warmest gratitude for valuable assistance and advice, and the unflagging interest he has mani- fested in the accomplishment of my task. Like Goethe, who complained that, in spite of the un- doubted scientific value of his discoveries in comparative anatomy, his compatriots persistently allowed their admi- ration of the poet to overshadow due appreciation of the scientist, 1 Lamartine was deeply aggrieved that his contemporaries so constantly belittled, even ridiculed, his aspirations and achievements in the political arena.

Here was the chosen field in which he ardently desired to shine : a statesman first, a poet in his moments of elegant leisure. Unquestionably he loved his art; at times pas- sionately ; yet never to the exclusion of other ambitions. Early in life, even in the first intoxicating flush of literary fame, he trembled lest his poetry militate against the chances for the diplomatic appointment on which his heart was set. Later he deplored that his influence was restricted in the Chamber on account of the constant twits levelled by political antagonists who detected, or feigned to detect, the fatal taint of idealism in his treat- ment of the most prosaic problems of economics.

Controverting a somewhat harsh appreciation of Lamartine as a statesman, Eugene Ram- bert retorted: "He [Sainte-Beuve] does not sufficiently grasp what moral power and influence is exerted over the masses by the poetry of Lamartine's politics. The miracles per- formed at the H6tel de Ville can only be fully accounted for by the moral force Lamartine had exerted during the baffling years of his parliamentary career. If he talked over the heads of the unheeding legislators in the Cham- ber, his words as he once remarked sped out of the win- dows, and reached the eager ears of the struggling masses.

In the fulness of time the harvest was ripe, and the prole- tariat prepared to garner the fruits of the seedling Real- ity on which Lamartine had so cunningly grafted the Ideal. Not that Lamartine himself ever admitted the idealism of his politics or sociology. His constant aim was to separate his political from his literary career, as he sepa- rated his public and domestic life. Although he obeyed the promptings of his Muse, he dubbed it a weakness he would fain that men forgot.

Bruys d'Ouilly he wrote in , six years after his entrance into the politi- cal arena: " My poet's life begins again for a few days. You know better than any one that it has never been at most more than a twelfth part of my real life. The credulous public, which does not, like Jehovah, create 1 Etudes littbaires Lausanne, , p.

I have not spent thirty months so doing, and poetry has never been more to me than a prayer; the most beautiful and most intense act of thought, but the shortest, and the one which deducts the least from the day's work.

LAMARTINE – Le lac légendaire où le temps suspend son vol (ARTE, 2017)

The author defends himself against the insinuation that "vanity" has anything to do with his political ambitions, asserting that he has thrown himself into the vortex from a sense of duty, " like any passenger who during the storm lends a hand in the working of the ship. Lamartine was credited with his fair share of vanity political and literary and even with fatuous self-adulation. Young, well-born, ex- cessively handsome, with the fire of genius in face and bearing, he was early the idol of the foremost Parisian salons. It would be asking too much of a poet, between twenty-eight and thirty, not to be amenable to flattery.

Even Villemain 2 is enthusiastic, and I was afraid of him ; but he extols me to the skies, and maintains that in the memory of man never has one heard such verses. Lamartine was sincere in his estima-. Corrcspondance, ccxi.

He knew his power, but, in litera- ture, he was not ignorant of his weaknesses. It was in no spirit of false modesty, no feigned humility, that in his later years he paralleled what he had done with what he might have achieved. He was a merciless critic of his own shortcomings and peculiarities. To Ernest Legouv6, who asked how it came about that, given an equal facility in memorizing the verses of La Fontaine and those of Lamartine, and an equal pleas- ure in reciting them, yet after six months Lamartine's verses had slipped from his mind while those of La Fon- taine still stood out firm and clear, the poet replied: "The reason is that La Fontaine wrote with a pen, one might even say with a graving- tool, while I paint with a brush.

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He writes, I merely colour: his outlines are sharply drawn, mine are vague. Consequently it is only natural that his should remain impressed on the mem- ory, and that mine should gradually become effaced.

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Talent, my friend, is what is ac- quired by work and will. I have never worked, and I cannot correct.

Whenever I have tried to rewrite my verses I have only made them worse. Just compare me as a versifier with Victor Hugo!

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Why, I am a mere begin- ner, a mere school-boy beside him. Legouv6 adds that if Lamartine entertained a sincere disdain for his poetical grandeur, it was because he felt himself to be a poet very superior to his works, and above all, a man very superior to the poet. IV, p. Yet he possessed none of the petty passions which so often disfigure genius. There was no trace in him of literary jealousy, vindictiveness, or envy. A romantic in all but name he stood serenely aloof, belonging to no school, an adherent of no clique or coterie.

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Fully aware of his literary preeminence, but having taken to verse as a duck takes to water, he could discern no special personal merit in the facility with which nature had so generously en- dowed him. With statecraft it was different. The Lamartine of the study and he of the rostrum or the hustings were two dis- tinct and separate personalities. As a statesman, a legis- lator, and a social and political reformer, Lamartine entertained no doubts as to the importance of the mission an all-wise Providence had destined him to fulfil.

In a conversation, during , with M.