Edgar Quinet

Edgar Quinet (French: [kinɛ]; 17 February 1803 – 27 March 1875) was a French historian and intellectual.

Edgar Quinet - gravure sur acier
Edgar Quinet.
Paris - Cimetière du Montparnasse - Edgar Quinet 1
Grave of Quinet in Montparnasse cemetery, Paris


Early years

Quinet was born at Bourg-en-Bresse, in the département of Ain. His father, Jérôme Quinet, had been a commissary in the army, but being a strong republican and disgusted with Napoleon's 18 Brumaire coup, he gave up his post and devoted himself to scientific and mathematical study. Edgar, who was an only child, was usually alone, but his mother (Eugénie Rozat Lagis, who was an educated person with strong, albeit original, Protestant[1] religious views) exercised great influence over him.

He was sent to school first in Bourg and then in Lyon. His father wished him on leaving school to go into the army, and then enter a business career. Quinet was determined to engage in literature, and after a time got his way when he moved to Paris in 1820.[1]

His first publication, the Tablettes du juif errant ("Tablets of the Wandering Jew"),which appeared in 1823, symbolized the progress of humanity.[1] He became impressed with German intellectual writing and undertook translating Johann Gottfried Herder's Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit ("Outlines of Philosophy of the History of Man") learnt German for the purpose, and published his work in 1827, and obtained through it considerable credit.

Early writings

At this time he was introduced to Victor Cousin, and made the acquaintance of Jules Michelet. He had visited Germany and the United Kingdom before the appearance of his book. Cousin obtained for him a position on a government mission to the Morea, in the Ottoman Empire, in 1829 (during the Greek War of Independence), and on his return he published in 1830 a book on La Grèce moderne ("Modern Greece"). With Michelet he published a volume of works in 1843, denouncing Jesuits and blaming them for religious, political and social troubles. He also became acquainted with and a lover of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1838. Quinet wrote several lectures praising Emerson's works which were published with the title of Le Christianisme et la Revolution Francaise in 1845.[2]

Hopes of employment that he had after the July Revolution were frustrated by his reputation as a speculative republican. Nonetheless, he joined the staff of the Revue des deux mondes, and for some years contributed numerous essays, the most remarkable of which was that on Les Épopées françaises du XIIème siècle, an early, although not the earliest, appreciation of the long-neglected chansons de geste. Ahasverus, his first major original work, appeared in 1833 – it is a singular prose poem.

Shortly afterwards he married Minna More, a German girl with whom he had fallen in love some years before. Growing disillusioned with German thought because of Prussian aggressive tactics,[3] he visited Italy, and, besides writing many essays, produced two poems, Napoléon (1835) and Prométhée (1838), both written in verse and seen as inferior to Ahasverus published in 1833. In 1838 he published a strong reply to David Strauss' Leben Jesu, and in that year he received the Legion of Honour. In 1839 he was appointed professor of foreign literature at Lyon, where he began the highly influential course of lectures which formed the basis for his Génie des religions. Two years later he was transferred to the Collège de France, and the Génie des religions, published (1842), he sympathized with all religions but did not favor one above all.[1]


Quinet's Parisian professorship, which began in 1842, was notorious as the subject of polemics. His chair was that of Southern Literature, but, neglecting his proper subject, he chose, in conjunction with Michelet, to engage in a violent polemic with the Jesuits and with Ultramontanism. Two books bearing exactly these titles appeared in 1843 and 1844, and contained, as was usual with Quinet, the substance of his lectures.

These lectures excited great debate and the author obstinately refused to return to literature-proper; consequently, in 1846, the government put an end to the lectures, a measure that was arguably approved by the majority of his colleagues. He was dismissed in 1846 by the Collège de France for his adamant attacks on the Roman Catholic Church, exaltation of the revolution, support for the oppressed nationalities of France and for supporting the theory that religion is a determining force in societies.[1]

1848 Revolution

By this time Quinet was a pronounced republican, and something of a revolutionary. He joined the rioters during the 1848 Revolution which overthrew King Louis-Philippe of France, and was elected by the département of Ain to the Constituent and then to the Legislative Assembly, where he affiliated with the extreme radical party.

He had published in 1848 Les Révolutions d'Italie ("The Revolutions of Italy"), one of his main works. He wrote numerous pamphlets during the short-lived Second French Republic, attacked the Roman expedition with all his strength and was from the first an uncompromising opponent of Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoleon III).


Quinet fled Louis Napoléon's 1851 coup d'état to Brussels until 1858 and then fled to Veytaux, Switzerland, until 1870.[1] His wife had died some time previously, and he now married Hermione Asachi (or Asaky), the daughter of Gheorghe Asachi, a Romanian poet. In Brussels, Quinet lived for some seven years, during which he published Les Esclaves ("The Slaves", 1853), a dramatic poem, Marnix de Sainte-Aldégonde (1854), a study of the Reformer in which he emphasizes Sainte-Aldégonde's literary merit, and some other books.

In Veytaux, his literary output was greater than ever. In 1860, he published a unique volume, partly reflecting the style of Ahasverus, and entitled Merlin l'enchanteur (Merlin the Enchanter); in 1862, a Histoire de la campagne de 1815 ("History of the Campaign of 1815"), in 1865 an elaborate book on the French Revolution, in which the author depicts atrocities carried out by revolutionary forces (causing his rejection by many other partisans of republican ideas). Many pamphlets date from this period, as does La Création (1870), a third book of the genre of Ahasverus and Merlin, but even vaguer – dealing with physical science rather than history, legend, or philosophy for the most part.

Return and final years

Quinet had refused to return to France to join the liberal opposition against Napoleon III, but returned immediately after the Battle of Sedan in the Franco-Prussian War. He was then restored to his professorship, and during the siege of Paris wrote vehemently against the Germans. He was elected deputy to the National Assembly by the département of the Seine in 1871, and was one of the most obstinate opponents of the terms of peace between France and Germany. He continued to write till his death, which occurred at Versailles in 1875.

Le Siège de Paris et la défense nationale ("The Siege of Paris and the National Defence") appeared in 1871, La République ("The Republic") in 1872, Le Livre de l'exilé ("The Book of Exile") in the year of its author's death and after it. This was followed by three volumes of letters and some other work. Quinet had already in 1858 published a semi-autobiographical book called Histoire de mes idées ("History of My Ideas").


The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica on Quinet:

His character was extremely amiable, and his letters to his mother, his accounts of his early life, and so forth, are likely always to make him interesting. He was also a man of great moral conscientiousness, and as far as intention went perfectly disinterested. As a writer, his chief fault is want of concentration; as a thinker and politician, vagueness and want of practical determination. His historical and philosophical works, though showing much reading, fertile thought, abundant facility of expression, and occasionally, where prejudice does not come in, acute judgment, are rather (as not a few of them were in fact) reported lectures than formal treatises. His rhetorical power was altogether superior to his logical power, and the natural consequence is that his work is full of contradictions. These contradictions were, moreover, due, not merely to an incapacity or an unwillingness to argue strictly, but also to the presence in his mind of a large number of inconsistent tastes and prejudices which he either could not or would not co-ordinate into an intelligible creed. Thus he has the strongest attraction for the picturesque side of medievalism and catholicity, the strongest repulsion for the restrictions which medieval and Catholic institutions imposed on individual liberty. He refused to submit himself to any form of positive orthodoxy, yet when a man like Strauss pushed unorthodoxy to its extreme limits Quinet revolted.

As a politician he acted with the extreme radicals, yet universal suffrage disgusted him as unreasonable in its principle and dangerous in its results. His pervading characteristic, therefore, is that of an eloquent vagueness, very stimulating and touching at times, but as deficient in coercive force of matter as it is in lasting precision and elegance of form. He is less inaccurate in fact than Michelet, but he is also much less absorbed by a single idea at a time, and the result is that he seldom attains to the vivid representation of which Michelet was a master.

Early editions

His numerous works appeared in a uniform edition of twenty-eight volumes (1877–79). His second wife, in 1870, published certain Mémoires d'exil, and Lettres d'exil followed in 1885. In that year Prof. George Saintsbury published a selection of the Lettres à ma mère (Letters to My Mother) with an introduction.

English translations published in the United States

  • Ahashuerus translated by Brian Stableford, 2013, Black Coat Press, ISBN 9781612272146


  1. ^ a b c d e f The Fifteenth Edition of Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Chazin, Maurice (March 1933), "Quinet an Early Discource of Emerson", PMLA 48, 1: 147-163
  3. ^ Barzun, Jaques (October 1974), "Romantic Historiography as a Political Force in France", Journal of the History of Ideas 12, 3: 318-329
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Quinet, Edgar" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, in turn, gives the following references:
    • Libres Penseurs religieux (E. Paris, 1905)
    • R. Heath, Early Life and Writings of Edgar Quinet (London, 1881)
    • Jérôme Alexander Sillem (1840-1912), "Edgar Quinet, geschiedschrijver en staatkundige" (Published in the Dutch magazine: "De Gids", 1869)
    • E. Ledrain, A l'occasion du centenaire (1903)
    • Hermione Quinet-Asachi, Cinquante ans d'amitié

External links

Boulevard Raspail

Boulevard Raspail is a boulevard of Paris, in France.

Its orientation is north-south, and joins boulevard Saint-Germain with place Denfert-Rochereau whilst traversing 7th, 6th and 14th arrondissements. The boulevard intersects major roadways: rue de Sèvres, rue de Rennes and boulevard du Montparnasse.

Its former name was boulevard d'Enfer, of which the passage d'Enfer is a vestigial relic.

Casa Capșa

Casa Capșa is a historic restaurant in Bucharest, Romania, first established in 1852. At various times it has also included a hotel; most recently, it reopened as a 61-room hotel 17 June 2003.

"…long a symbol of Bucharest for its inhabitants… Capșa is not only associated with its exquisite pastry products, but also for a hectic literary life of yore… a welcoming place for Romanian writers where they could meet, talk and…associate."The restaurant stands on Calea Victoriei at the corner of Edgar Quinet Street, across from the Hotel Capitol and diagonally across from the Cercul Militar Naţional.

Edgar Quinet-class cruiser

The Edgar Quinet class was the last type of armored cruiser built for the French Navy. The two ships of this class—Edgar Quinet and Waldeck-Rousseau—were built between 1905 and 1911. They were based on the previous cruiser, Ernest Renan, the primary improvement being a more powerful uniform main battery of 194 mm (7.6 in) guns. The Edgar Quinet class was the most powerful type of armored cruiser built in France, but they entered service more than two years after the British battlecruiser HMS Invincible, which, with its all-big-gun armament, had rendered armored cruisers obsolescent.

Both ships operated together in the Mediterranean Fleet after entering service, and they remained in the fleet throughout World War I. They participated in the blockade of the Adriatic to keep the Austro-Hungarian Navy contained early in the war. During this period, Edgar Quinet took part in the Battle of Antivari in August 1914, and Waldeck-Rousseau was unsuccessfully attacked twice by Austro-Hungarian U-boats. Waldeck-Rousseau participated in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in the Black Sea in 1919–22, while Edgar Quinet remained in the Mediterranean during the contemporaneous Greco-Turkish War.

Edgar Quinet was converted into a training ship in the mid-1920s before running aground off the Algerian coast in January 1930. She could not be pulled free and sank five days later. Waldeck-Rousseau served as the flagship of the Far East fleet from 1929 to 1932 and was decommissioned after returning to France. She was hulked in 1936 and scrapped in 1941–44.

Edgar Quinet (Paris Métro)

Edgar Quinet is a station of the Paris Métro serving line 6 at the intersection of the Boulevard Edgar-Quinet, the Rue du Montparnasse and the Rue de la Gaîté in the 14th arrondissement.

French cruiser Edgar Quinet

Edgar Quinet was an armored cruiser of the French Navy, the lead ship of her class. She and her sister ship, Waldeck-Rousseau, were the last class of armored cruiser to be built by the French Navy. Edgar Quinet was laid down in November 1905, launched in September 1907, and completed in January 1911. Armed with a main battery of fourteen 194-millimeter (7.6 in) guns, she was more powerful than most other armored cruisers, but she had entered service more than two years after the first battlecruiser—HMS Invincible—had rendered armored cruisers obsolescent.

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Edgar Quinet participated in the hunt for the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben and then joined the blockade of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic. She took part in the Battle of Antivari later in August, and the seizure of Corfu in January 1916, but saw no further action during the war. In 1922, she evacuated over a thousand civilians from Smyrna during the climax of the Greco-Turkish War. Converted into a training ship in the mid-1920s, Edgar Quinet ran aground on a rock off the Algerian coast on 4 January 1930 and sank five days later.

French cruiser Ernest Renan

Ernest Renan was an armored cruiser built for the French Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, she participated in the hunt for the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben and then joined the blockade of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic. She took part in the Battle of Antivari later in August, and the seizure of Corfu in January 1916, but saw no further action during the war. After the war, the British and French intervened in the Russian Civil War; this included a major naval deployment to the Black Sea, which included Ernest Renan. She served as a training ship in the late 1920s before she was sunk as a target ship in the 1930s.

French cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau

Waldeck-Rousseau was an armored cruiser built for the French Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She was the second and final member of the Edgar Quinet class, the last class of armored cruiser to be built by the French Navy. She was laid down at the Arsenal de Lorient in June 1906, launched in March 1908, and commissioned in August 1911. Armed with a main battery of fourteen 194-millimeter (7.6 in) guns, she was more powerful than most other armored cruisers, but she had entered service more than two years after the first battlecruiser—HMS Invincible—had rendered the armored cruiser obsolescent. Waldeck-Rousseau nevertheless proved to be a workhorse of the French Mediterranean Fleet.

After the outbreak of World War I, Waldeck-Rousseau joined the main French fleet that blockaded the southern end of the Adriatic to prevent the Austro-Hungarian Navy from operating in the Mediterranean. In October and November, Waldeck-Rousseau was twice attacked by Austro-Hungarian U-boats but she escaped unscathed in both engagements. She thereafter alternated between stints in the southern Adriatic and patrols in the eastern Mediterranean once the Ottoman Empire joined the war in November.

After the war, the British and French intervened in the Russian Civil War; this included a major naval deployment to the Baltic Sea, which included Waldeck-Rousseau. Shortly after arriving, her crew mutinied due to poor living conditions and a desire to return to France. The unrest was quickly suppressed, and Waldeck-Rousseau joined the effort to support the Whites against the Red Bolsheviks. In May 1929, the ship was sent to French Indochina to serve as the flagship of the Far East squadron. She remained there until May 1932, when she returned to France, where she was decommissioned and hulked. Waldeck-Rousseau was ultimately scrapped in 1941–44.

Gaîté (Paris Métro)

Gaîté is a station on line Line 13 of the Paris Métro in the 14th arrondissement.

The station opened on 21 January 1937 as part of the original line 14 between Bienvenüe and Porte de Vanves. This line became part of line 13 on 9 November 1976.

The station is named after the Rue de la Gaîté, which was a country road connecting Clamart with the Barrière du Montparnasse, a gate in the Wall of the Farmers-General at the intersection of the Boulevard Edgar-Quinet and the Rue du Montparnasse (the location of Edgar Quinet station), built between 1784 and 1791 by the Ferme générale, the corporation of tax farmers, to enforce the collection of taxes of goods, including wine, imported into Paris. Guinguettes, restaurants and theatres were built outside the wall, so they could avoid these taxes. "Gaîté" is an old French spelling of "gaiety", reflecting this trade.

Georges Besse

Georges Besse (25 December 1927, in Clermont-Ferrand, France – 17 November 1986, in Paris) was a French businessman who led several large state-controlled French companies during his lifetime. He was assassinated outside his Paris home by the terrorist group Action directe. At the time of his death he was the CEO of French car manufacturer Renault.

AREVA operates the Georges Besse II uranium enrichment plant.[2]

Hermiona Asachi

Hermiona Asachi (December 16, 1821 – December 9, 1900) was a Romanian writer and translator.

The daughter of Gheorghe Asachi and Elena Tauber, she was born in Vienna. In 1840, she published a collection of stories from the Bible Istoria sfântă pentru tinerimea moldo-română. She translated texts by Silvio Pellico and Benjamin Franklin into Romanian for the publication Albina Românească. She moved to France in 1845, where she published Mémoires d’exile (1868) and Cinquante ans d’amitié: Michelet-Quinet under the name Hermiona Quimet. Asachi corresponded with various French intellectuals such as Victor Hugo, Jules Michelet and Louis Blanc.She was first married to Alexandru D. Moruzi. In 1852, she married the French historian Edgar Quinet. She edited some of Quinet's texts for publication.Asachi died in Paris at the age of 78.

Jean Jules Godefroy Calès

Jean Jules Godefroy Calès (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ ʒyl ɡɔd.fʁwa ka.lɛs]) was a French politician and physician. He was born on July 24, 1828 in Villefranche-de-Lauragais (Haute-Garonne) and died on November 2, 1899 in Bordeaux (Gironde).

Le Sphinx

Le Sphinx was a maison close (brothel) in Paris in the 1930s and 1940s. Along with the "Le Chabanais" and "One-Two-Two" it was considered one of the most luxurious and famous Parisian brothels.It was the first luxury brothel and opened on the left bank of Seine. Because of its location in the triangle of "literary" cafes (La Coupole, Rotonda and the Cafe du Dome) in Montparnasse, it was popular with literary and artistic bohemians.

List of Légion d'honneur recipients by name (Q)

The following is a list of some notable Légion d'honneur recipients by name. The Légion d'honneur is the highest order of France. A complete, chronological list of the members of the Legion of Honour nominated from the very first ceremony in 1803 to now does not exist. The number is estimated at one million including about 3,000 Grand Cross.

Montparnasse Cemetery

Montparnasse Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Montparnasse) is a cemetery in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, part of the city's 14th arrondissement.


Quinet ([kine]) is a French surname. Notable people with this surname include:

Edgar Quinet (1803-1875), French historian

Edgar Quinet (Paris Métro)

Edgar Quinet-class cruiser

French cruiser Edgar Quinet

Hermiona Quinet, married name of Hermiona Asachi (1821–1900), Romanian writer

Marcel Quinet (1915-1986), Belgian pianist

Raspail (Paris Métro)

Raspail is a station of the Paris Métro, serving Line 4 and Line 6 in the 14th arrondissement. The station is currently undergoing renovation works. The station is named after the Boulevard Raspail, named after 19th-century scientist and statesman François-Vincent Raspail.

The station is now fitted with Platform screen doors, due to the line 4 being fitted for automation.

Théâtre Rive Gauche

The Théâtre Rive Gauche is a theatre in Paris in France located at 6, rue de la Gaîté in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. It is owned by the Edgar Entertainment Society, which also owns the Edgar Café and the Edgar Theatre located at 58 Edgar-Quinet Boulevard in the same borough. The auditorium has 400 seats and hosts contemporary productions.

Église Saint-Pothin

The Église Saint-Pothin (English: Church of Saint Pothinus) is a Roman Catholic church located in Lyon, France. The parish church sits on the left bank of the Rhône, in the 6th arrondissement of Lyon, at the Place Edgar Quinet. By order of 2 May 2007, the whole church was included in the supplementary inventory of monuments historiques.

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