Félicité Robert de Lamennais

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lamennais, Félicité Robert de


Born June 19, 1782, in St. Malo; died Feb. 27, 1854, in Paris. French publicist and philosopher. Abbot. One of the forefathers of Christian socialism.

Quickly overcoming his passion for the ideas of Rousseau, even in his youth Lamennais was a convinced monarchist and a faithful Catholic. In his early works (1810 through the 1820’s) he criticized the ideas of the Great French Revolution and the materialist philosophy of the 18th century. During this period his political ideal was a Christian monarchy. But by the late 1820’s he adopted a liberal point of view. Collaborating with Abbé Lacordaire and Count Montalembert, he founded the journal L’Avenir during the Revolution of 1830. The publication advocated the separation of church and state, universal suffrage, and a number of other liberal reforms. In 1834, Lamennais published Words of a Believer (Russian translation, 1906), in which he castigated capitalism from the standpoint of feudal socialism. The opinions expressed by Lamennais during the 1830’s were condemned in papal encyclicals.

Lamennais’s utopian ideas on the possibility of averting social revolutions and improving the social system through Christian love and moral self-perfection greatly influenced the development of Christian socialism—in particular, the social doctrine of Catholic modernism. During the 1950’s and 1960’s his ideas became extremely popular among left-wing Catholics. Toward the end of his life Lamennais presented his own philosophical system (Outline of Philosophy, vols. 1–4, 1840–46). In it he departed from orthodox Catholic doctrine on a number of issues, attempting to combine religion and philosophy and basing his ideas on neo-Platonism and the work of G. Leibniz.


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–12. Paris, 1836–37.
Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–10. Paris, 1843–44.
Oeuvres posthumes, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1856–59.
Oeuvres inédites, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1866.
In Russian translation:
Sovremennoe rabstvo. Nizhny Novgorod, 1905.


Kotliarevskii, S. A. Lamenne i noveishii katolitsizm. Moscow, 1904.
Insarov, Kh. “Lamenne i ego vremia.” Mir bozhii, 1905, nos. 1, 2.
Speranskii, V. N. Lamenne kak politicheskii myslitel’. Petrograd, 1922.
Boutard, C. Lamennais, sa vie et ses doctrines, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1905–13.
Duine, F. M. Essai de bibliographie de F. R. de Lamennais. Paris, 1923.
Mourre, M. Lamennais ou l’hérésie des temps modernes. Paris, 1955.
Roussel, J. F. de Lamennais. Paris, 1957.
Tuloup, F. Lamennais et son époque. Dinan, 1961.
Verucci, G. F. Lamennais. Naples, 1963.
Stearns, P. N. Priest and Revolutionary. New York, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.