Joseph-Ernest Renan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Renan, Joseph-Ernest


Born Feb. 27, 1823, in Tréguier, Côtes-du-Nord; died Oct. 2, 1892, in Paris. French writer, historian, philologist, and orientalist. Member of the Académie Française (1878).

Renan studied at a Catholic seminary. His early works include the Comparative History of the Semitic Languages (1855) and translations of biblical texts with commentaries. In his History of the Origins of Christianity (vols. 1–8, 1863–83; Russian translation, vols. 1–7, 1864–1907) and History of the People of Israel (vols. 1–5, 1887–93; Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1908–12), Renan, while criticizing the Bible, adhered to the conclusions of the Tübingen school. In his Life of Jesus—the first book of the History of the Origins of Christianity—he depicted Christ not as a deity but as an idealized man, thus provoking the attacks of clericalists.

Renan expressed his subjectivistic sociological and ethical views in the Philosophic Dialogues and Fragments (1876) and in Philosophic Dramas, similar in tone, which included Caliban (1878), The Water of Youth (1881), The Priest of Némi (1885), and The Abbess of Jouarre (1886).


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–10. Paris [1947–61].
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–12. Kiev [1902–03].


Mikhailovskii, N. [K.]. “Dramy Renana.” In the collection K svetu. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Rolland, R. Sobr. soch., vol. 14. Moscow, 1958. Pages 476–83.
Tieghem, P. van. Renan. Paris [1948].
Chadbourne, R. M. Ernest Renan. New York [1968]. (Bibliography on pp. 164–71.)
Gore, K. L’Idée de progrès dans la pensée de Renan. Paris, 1970.
Gouhier, H. Renan: auteur dramatique. Paris, 1972. (Contains bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Though it has often acted as a conservative body, opposed to innovations in literary content and form, its membership has included most of the great names of French literature--e.g., Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Voltaire, Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, Joseph-Ernest Renan, and Henri Bergson.