Ernest Renan

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Renan, Ernest

Renan, Ernest (ĕrnĕstˈ rənäNˈ), 1823–92, French historian and critic. He began training for the priesthood but renounced it in 1845. His first trip to Italy (1849) influenced his interest in antiquity but did not change most of his basic ideas, formed by 1848 when he wrote L'Avenir de la science (1890, tr. 1891). Relativistic, concerned with fundamental problems of human nature, he studied religion from a historical rather than a theological point of view. He wrote Histoire des origines du christianisme (8 vol., 1863–83; tr. The History of the Origins of Christianity, 5 vol., 1888–90), of which the first volume, Vie de Jésus, became his most widely known book, and the Histoire du peuple d'Israël (5 vol., 1887–93; tr. History of the People of Israel, 1888–96). In 1878 he was elected to the French Academy, and in 1883 he was made director of the Collège de France. Renan turned to creative writing in later years and, with irony and poetic style, composed Dialogues et fragments philosophiques (1876) and the much-discussed Drames philosophiques (1888). His subtle irony and beautiful prose are blended, sometimes whimsically, in the Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse (1883; tr. Recollections of My Youth, 1883). Renan's influence was widespread.


See biographies by H. W. Wardman (1964) and R. M. Chadbourne (1968); studies by R. M. Chadbourne (1957) and V. V. Gaigalas (1972).

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The present volume is necessary reading for historians of science, especially those latter-day intellectual heirs (such as Toby Huff) of still-influential figures such as Ernst Renan and Goldziher, who continue to repeat the grand but flawed and prejudiced narrative the nineteenth century, formulated in the departing glory of the Empire.
In 1882, the French philosopher Ernst Renan delivered a ground-breaking lecture on what is a nation at the Sorbonne.
The event to commemorate French author and thinker Ernst Renan
Indeed, as early as the 1880s, French polymath Ernst Renan recognised that the essence of a nation was not only that its individual members must have much in common, but they must have forgotten much in common too.
It is a crucial part of his thesis, in fact, that such exclusion is an unavoidable part of canon-formation, just as forgetting is an inevitable component of national consciousness (as Ernst Renan has famously argued).
One of the first thinkers to see the implications of scientism was the French philologist Ernst Renan. In his remarkable Philosophical Dialogue (1871), he envisioned a world ruled by "positivist tyrants," endowed by reason and science with the power to divine the rules of nature and extend them over all of society.
In a dramatic comparison between the travelogue descriptions of visits to Greece by Ernst Renan, Sigmund Freud, and Hofmannsthal, Le Rider contrasts Hofmannsthal's disappointment on his first visit to the Parthenon with a rebirth parallel to that of the businessman in Briefe des Zuruckgekehrten.
The nebulous nature of national identity prior to a nationalist movement or ideology coming into play is commonplace in the study of nation-building, identified in the 19th century by historian Ernst Renan in his famous remark that "getting its history wrong is part of being a nation."(3) The "invention of tradition" receives a telling confirmation in Barlas's account of the role of British Orientalist historiography in bolstering Hindu nationalism.