Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques Henri

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Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques Henri

(zhäk äNrē` bĕrnärdăN` də săN–pyĕr`), 1737–1814, French naturalist and author. He was a friend of Rousseau, by whom he was strongly influenced. His chief work, Études de la nature (1784), sought to prove the existence of God from the wonders of nature; it is rich in descriptive passages, and it added specific color terms and plant names to the French language. A section of this was the sentimental prose idyll Paul et Virginie (1788), which attained immense vogue and influenced the French romanticists.

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Jacques Henri


Born Jan. 19, 1737, in Le Havre; died Jan. 21, 1814, nearPontoise. French writer.

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre was associated with the literary currents of sentimentalism and preromanticism. He was the author of Journey to Russia (published posthumously) and Journey to Ile de France (1773). In his philosophical writings Studies on Nature (1784–87) and the unfinished Harmony of Nature (1815, posthumous), he adopts Rousseauistic ideas. The novel Paul and Virginia (1787), as distinct from the pastoral Arcadia (1781, unfinished), is an idyll which tells of the happiness of living in accord with the laws of “nature and virtue.” In the satirical-philosophical novella The Indian Hut (1791) the representatives of learned scholasticism and religious intolerance are contrasted with the wise and virtuous pariah. Close in ideology to this novella are the short stories The Stone of Abraham and Empsael and the drama The Death of Socrates (1808). Bernardin’s style is characterized by didacticism, vigor, and picturesque elements.


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–12. Paris, 1918–20.
Oeuvres posthumes, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1833–36.
Correspondance, vols. 1–4. Paris, 1826.
In Russian translation:
Suratskaia kofeinia. Edited by L. Tolstoy. Moscow, 1891.
Pol’ i Virginiia. Indiiskaia khizhina. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.


Rozanov, M. “Zh. Zh. Russo i literaturnoe dvizhenie kontsa XVIII i nachala XIX vv.” In Ocherki po istorii russoizma na Zapade i ν Rossii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1910. Chapter 8.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 783–85.
Maury, F. Etude sur la vie et les oeuvres de Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Paris, 1938.