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PIERRE MARTIN VICTOR RICHARD DE LAPRA...

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 207 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PIERRE MARTIN VICTOR RICHARD DE LAPRADE (1812–1883), known as VICTOR DE LAPRADE, French poet and critic, was born on the 13th of January 1812 at Montbrison, in the department of the Loire. He came of a modest provincial family. After completing his studies at Lyons, he produced in 1839 a small volume of religious verse, Les Parf urns de Madeleine. This was followed in 184o by La Colere de Jesus, in 1841 by the religious fantasy of Psyche, and in 1844 by Odes et poemes. In 1845 Laprade visited Italy on a mission of literary research, and in 1847 he was appointed professor of French literature at Lyons. The French Academy, by a single vote, preferred Emile Augier at the election in 1857, but in the following year Laprade was chosen to fill the chair of Alfred de Musset. In 1861 he was removed from his post at Lyons owing to the publication of a political satire in verse (Les Muses d'Etat), and in 1871 took his seat in the National Assembly on the benches of the Right. He died on the 13th of December 1883. A statue has been raised by his fellow-townsmen at Montbrison. Besides those named above, Laprade's poetical works include Fames evangeliques (1852), Idylles heroiques (1858), Les Voix de silence (1864), Pernette (1868), Fames civiles (1873), Le Livre d'un pere (1877), Varia and Livre des adieux (1878–1879). In prose he published, in 184o, Des habitudes intellectuelles de l'avocat. Questions d'art et de morale appeared in 1861, succeeded by Le Sentiment de la nature, avant le Christianisme in 1866, and Chez les modernes in 1868, Education liberale in 1873. The material for these books had in some cases been printed earlier, after delivery as a lecture. He also contributed articles to the Revue des deux mondes and the Revue de Paris. No writer represents more perfectly than Laprade the admirable genius of French provincial life, its homely simplicity, its culture, its piety and its sober patriotism. As a poet he belongs to the school of Chateaubriand and Lamartine. Devoted to the best classical models, inspired by a sense of the ideal, and by worship of nature as revealing the divine—gifted, too, with a full faculty of expression—he lacked only fire and passion in the equipment of a romantic poet. But the want of these, and the pressure of a certain chilly facility and of a too conscious philosophizing have prevented him from reaching the first rank, or from even attaining the popularity due to his high place in the second. Only in. his patriotic verse did he shake himself clear from these trammels. Speaking generally, he possessed some of the qualities, and many of the defects, of the English Lake School. Laprade's prose criticisms must be ranked high. Apart from his classical and metaphysical studies, he was widely read in the literatures of Europe, and built upon the groundwork of a naturally correct taste. His dislike of irony and scepticism probably led him to underrate the product of the 18th century, and there are signs of a too fastidious dread of Philistinism. But a constant love of the best, a joy in nature and a lofty patriotism are not less evident than in his poetry. Few writers of any nation have fixed their minds so steadily on whatsoever things are pure, and lovely and of good report. See also Edmond Bire, Victor de Laprade, sa vie et ses oeuvres. (C.)
End of Article: PIERRE MARTIN VICTOR RICHARD DE LAPRADE (1812–1883)
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