Lamartine, Alphonse Marie Louis de

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Lamartine, Alphonse Marie Louis de

Lamartine, Alphonse Marie Louis de (älfôNsˈ märēˈ lwē də lämärtēnˈ), 1790–1869, French poet, novelist, and statesman. After a trip to Italy and a brief period in the army, Lamartine began to write and achieved immediate success with his first publication, Méditations poétiques (1820). This group of 24 poems, including the famous “Le Lac,” expressed his own feelings—religious, melancholic, or amorous—as he came in contact with nature and the land. He drew from tradition, from Ronsard as well as from the 18th cent., while adding something new in the form of a very personal lyricism expressed in a verse that was intended to be musical. This musicality was developed in Harmonies (1830). His religious orthodoxy becomes a kind of pantheism in Jocelyn (1836) and La Chute d'un ange (1838). In politics, Lamartine held aloof from all parties; his idealism made him embrace the principles of democracy, social justice, and international peace. His Histoire des Girondins (1847), a glorification of the Girondists, was immensely popular, and after the February Revolution of 1848 Lamartine briefly headed the provisional government and was a member of the executive committee that replaced it. His moderation soon cost him the support of both the right and the left wings of the revolutionists. He competed unsuccessfully for the presidency with Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III). Lamartine left politics and devoted himself entirely to writing, spending much of the remainder of his life in a hopeless effort to repay the fantastic debts he had accumulated in his youth. His later prose works include the novel Graziella (1849, tr. 1876) and Les Confidences (1852).


See studies by H. R. Whitehouse (1918) and C. M. Lombard (1973).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lamartine, Alphonse Marie Louis de


Born Oct. 21, 1790, in Mâcon, department of Saône-et-Loire; died Feb. 28, 1869, in Paris. French romantic poet; political figure; historian. Member of the Académie Française (1829).

Born a nobleman, Lamartine was educated at a Jesuit collège. In 1820 he chose a diplomatic career. His first books (Poetic Meditations, 1820, and New Poetic Meditations, 1823) brought him fame as a pioneer of romantic lyricism in France. Later, however, the elegiac disclosure of secrets of the soul gave way more and more perceptibly in his work to the prayerful ode (Poetical and Religious Harmonies, 1830) and to metaphysical spiritualistic preaching (passages of the mystical epopee Jocelyn, 1836, and Fall of an Angel, 1838), which was tinged with philanthropic moralization (Poetic Reflections, 1839).

As a politician, Lamartine was at first a representative of the conservative nobility. Elected to the Chamber of Deputies under the July Monarchy (1833), he initially joined the royalist opposition. In 1840, however, he began to support the bourgeois liberals. His speeches in the chamber, his apologia for the Girondins and negative characterization of the Jacobins in his History of the Girondins (1847; Russian translation, 1871–72), and his activity during the February Revolution of 1848, when he was minister of foreign affairs and played a prominent role in the provisional government, made him “the classic hero of this era, when the betrayal of the people was cloaked in poetic colors and rhetorical tinsel” (F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch, 2nd ed., vol. 6, p. 289). Defeated in the presidential elections of December 1848, he turned to writing historical compilations (for example, The History of Russia, 1855), to publishing the Popular Course in Literature (1856), and to completing memoirs that imitated the romantic novella (for example, Graziella, 1852).

In Russia, Lamartine’s poems were translated by F. I. Tiutchev, A. I. Polezhaev, A. A. Fet, P. A. Kozlov, V. Ia. Briusov, and B. K. Livshits.


Oeuvres poétiques complètes. Texte établi, annoté et présenté par M.-F. Guyard. [Paris, 1963.]
In Russian translation:
“[Stikhi.]” In Frantsuzskie stikhi v per. rus. poetov, XIX-XX vv. [Compiled and with an introductory article and commentary by E. Etkind.] Moscow, 1969.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Ob iskusstve, vol. 1. Moscow, 1957. Pages 463, 474–81.
Shakhov, A. Ocherki literaturnogo dvizheniia v pervuiu polovinu XIX v. St. Petersburg, 1894.
Oblomievskii, D. Frantsuzskii romantizm: Ocherki. Moscow, 1947.
Rabinovich, G. “A. de Lamartin.” In Pisateli Frantsii. Compiled by E. G. Etkind. Moscow, 1964.
Korbe, Sh. “Lamartin i Rossiia.” In Russko-evropeiskie literaturnye sviazi. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Guillemin, H. Lamartine, l’homme et l’oeuvre. Paris [1940].
Guillemin, H. Lamartine en 1848. Paris, 1948.
Guyard, M.-F. A. de Lamartine. Paris [1956].
Guyard, M.-F. “Etat présent des études lamartiniennes.” L’Information littéraire, 1961, no. 3.
Actes des Congrès des Journées européennes lamartiniennes, vols. 1–3. Mâcon, 1961–69.
Lamartine: Le Livre du centenaire: Etudes recueillies et prés. par P. Viallaneix. Paris [1971].


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