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CHARLES MARIE RENE LECONTE DE LISLE (...

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 356 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHARLES MARIE RENE LECONTE DE LISLE (1818-1894), French poet, was born in the island of Reunion on the 22nd of October 1818. His father, an army surgeon, who brought him up with great severity, sent him to travel in the East Indies with a view to preparing him for a commercial life. After this voyage he went to Rennes to complete his education, studying especially Greek, Italian and history. He returned once or twice to Reunion, but in 1846 settled definitely in Paris. His first volume, La Venus de Milo, attracted to him a number of friends many of whom were passionately devoted to classical literature. In 1873 he was made assistant librarian at the Luxembourg; in 1886 he was elected to the Academy in succession to Victor Hugo. His Fames antiques appeared in 1852; Fabrics et poesies in 1854; Le Chemin de la croix in 1859; the Poemes barbares, in their first form, in 1862; Les Erinnyes, a tragedy after the Greek model, in 1872; for which occasional music was provided by Jules Massenet; the Fames tragiques in 1884; L'Apollonide, another classical tragedy, in 1888; and two posthumous volumes, Derniers poemes in 1899, and Premieres poesies et lettres intimes in 1902. In addition to his original work in verse, he published a series of admirable prose translations of Theocritus, Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Horace. He died at Voisins, near Louveciennes (Seine-et-Oise), on the 18th of July 1894. In Leconte de Lisle the Parnassian movement seems to crystallize. His verse is clear, sonorous, dignified, deliberate in movement, classically correct in rhythm, full of exotic local colour, of savage names, of realistic rhetoric. It has its own kind of romance, in its " legend of the ages," so different from Hugo's, so much fuller of scholarship and the historic sense, yet with far less of human pity. Coldness cultivated as a kind of artistic distinction seems to turn all his poetry to marble, in spite of the fire at its heart. Most of Leconte de Lisle's poems are little chill epics, in which legend is fossilized. They have the lofty monotony of a single conception of life and of the universe. He sees the world as what Byron called it, " a glorious blunder," and desires only to stand a little apart from the throng, meditating scornfully. Hope, with him, becomes no more than this desperate certainty: " Tu to tairas, o voix sinistre des vivants! His only prayer is to Death, " divine Death," that it may gather its children to its breast: " Affranchis-noun du temps, du nombre et de 1'espace, Et rends-nous le repos que la vie a trouble!" The interval which is his he accepts with something of the defiance of his own Cain, refusing to fill it with the triviality cf happiness, waiting even upon beauty with a certain inflexible austerity. He listens and watches, throughout the world, for echoes and glimpses of great tragic passions, languid with fire in the East, a tumultuous conflagration in the middle ages, a sombre darkness in the heroic ages of the North. The burning emptiness of the desert attracts him, the inexplicable melancholy of the dogs that bark at the moon; he would interpret the jaguar's dreams, the sleep of the condor. He sees nature with the same wrathful impatience as man, praising it for its destructive energies, its haste to crush out human life before the stars fall into chaos, and the world with them, as one of the least of stars. He sings the " Dies Irae " exultingly; only seeming to desire an end of God as well as of man, universal nothingness. He conceives that he does well to b& angry, and this anger is indeed the personal note of his pessimism; but it leaves him somewhat apart from the philosophical poets, too fierce for wisdom and not rapturous enough for poetry. (A. SY.) See J. Dornis, Leconte de Lisle intime 0895); F. Calmette, Un Demi siecle litteraire, Leconte de Lisle et ses amis (1902) ; Paul Bourget, Nouveaux essais de psychologie contemporaine (1885) ; F. Brunetiere, L'Evolution de la poesie lyrique en France au XIX' siecle (1894); Maurice Spronck, Les Artistes litteraires (1889) ; J. Lemaitre, Les Contemporains (2nd series, 1886) ; F. Brunetiere, Nouveaux essais sur la litt. contemp. (1895). LE COQ, ROBERT (d. 1373), French bishop, was born at Montdidier, although he belonged to a bourgeois family of Orleans, where he first attended school before coming to Paris. In Paris he became advocate to the parlement (1347) ; then King John appointed him master of requests, and in 1351, a year during which he received many other honours, he became bishop of Laon. At the opening of 1354 he was sent with the cardinal of Boulogne, Pierre I., duke of Bourbon, and Jean VI., count of Vendome, to Mantes to treat with Charles the Bad, king of Navarre, who had caused the constable, Charles of Spain, to be assassinated, and from this time dates his connexion with this king. At the meeting of the estates which opened in Paris in October 1356 Le Coq played a leading role and was one of the most outspoken of the orators, especially when petitions were presented to the dauphin Charles, denouncing the bad government of the realm and demanding the banishment of the royal councillors. Soon, however, the credit of the estates having gone down, he withdrew to his diocese, but at the request of the bourgeois of Paris he speedily returned. The king of Navarre had succeeded in escaping from prison and had entered Paris, where his party was in the ascendant; and Robert le Coq became the most powerful person in his council. No. one dared to contradict him, and he brought into it whom he pleased. He did not scruple to reveal to the king of Navarre secret deliberations, but his fortune soon turned. He ran great danger at the estates of Compiegne in May 1358, where his dismissal was demanded, and he had to flee to St Denis, where Charles the Bad and Etienne Marcel came to find him. After the death of Marcel, he tried, unsuccessfully, to deliver Laon, his episcopal town, to the king of Navarre, and he was excluded from the amnesty promised in the treaty of Calais (136o) by King John to the partisans of Charles the Bad. His temporalities had been seized, and he was obliged to flee from France. In 1363, thanks to the support of the king of Navarre, he was given the bishopric of Calahorra in the kingdom of Aragon, which he administered until his death in 1373. See L. C. Douet d'Arcq, " Acte d'accusation contre Robert le Coq, eveque de Laon " in Bibliotheque de l'Ecole des Charles, 1st series, t. ii., PP._ 350-387; and R. Delachenal, " La Bibliotheque d'un avocat du XIV siecle, inventaire estimatif des livres de Robert le Coq," in Nouvelle revue historique de droit frangais et etranger (1887), pp. 524-537.
End of Article: CHARLES MARIE RENE LECONTE DE LISLE (1818-1894)
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