Louise Michel

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Louise Michel
BirthplaceHaute-Marne, France
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Michel, Louise


Born May 29, 1830, in Vroncourt-la-Côte; died Jan. 10, 1905, in Marseille. French revolutionary and writer.

Michel was a village school teacher; in 1856 she went to teach in Paris, where she attended revolutionary meetings and was closely associated with the Blanquists. She took part in the uprisings of Oct. 31, 1870, and Jan. 22, 1871, against the traitorous policies of the Government of National Defense. She was active in the Paris Commune of 1871. When the Versailles troops entered Paris, she fought heroically at the barricades. After the fall of the Commune, Michel was arrested and tried by a military tribunal, at which she boldly defended the ideas of the Commune. In 1873 she was exiled to New Caledonia. She opened a school in Noumea and taught the children of the aborigines (Canacks) to read and write.

After the amnesty of 1880, Michel returned to France and took part in the labor movement. She promoted anarchist ideas and was a supporter of P. A. Kropotkin. In 1883, Michel was arrested for taking part in a demonstration by unemployed Pari-sian workers; in 1886 she was pardoned. From 1890 to 1895, Michel lived in London. During the last years of her life she became interested in the Russian revolutionary movement and welcomed the revolution that was beginning in Russia.

Michel wrote poetry, novels, and plays. Her lyric poetry was greatly influenced by V. Hugo and is imbued with a love of liberty. Her novels, including Poverty (1882–83, written with J. Guêtré Russian translation, 1960), The Despised (1882; with J. Guetre), and The New World (1888), continued the progressive tradition of romanticism begun by E. Sue, G. Sand, and V. Hugo. In her literary works, Michel lashed out at bourgeois morality and the bourgeois family and called for the emancipation of women.


Oeuvres posthumes, vol. 1. Paris, 1905.
Mémoires, vol. 1. Paris, 1886.
A Trovers La Vie: Poesies. Paris, 1894.
In Russian translation:
Kommuna. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.


Neustroeva, O. Zhizn’L. MisheV. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Lur’e, A. la. Portrety deiatelei Parizhskoi Kommuny. Moscow, 1956. Pages 285–318.
Danilin, lu. G. Poety Parizhskoi Kommuny. Moscow, 1966.
Planche, F. La Vie ardente et intrepide de L. Michel. Paris [1946].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Louise Michel was a very prolific writer, who tried her hand quite successfully at fiction (three of her novels were also co-edited by Claude Retat in 2013 with the Presses universitaires de Lyon), poetry and of course political commentary, apart from autobiographical writing.
Saethwyd cannoedd o'i chydnabod, ac ildiodd Louise ei hun yn y diwedd wedi Louise Michel i'r fyddin arestio ei mam a bygwth ei saethu.
Nineteenth-century French female icons of political and social rights for women, including Louise Michel, George Sand, Flora Tristan, d'Hericourt, Jeanne Deroin and Andre Leo, are cited as indirect influences on Cabet himself and on communal developments in the United States.
His cronies included former Paris Communard Louise Michel, the bomber Ravachol, and Bourdin, who had blown himself up in Greenwich Park.
Louise Michel, a relatively unknown figure outside of her native France, was an activist, an anarchist, and a fighter against racism who is known principally for her role in the short-lived French Commune in the spring of 1871.
Compiled and edited by Nic Maclellan, Louise Michel: Rebel Lives is the dramatic biography of Louise Michel, the fiery leader of the 1871 Paris Commune, a short-lived workers' government created when the city population rose up to exert its will.
She also condemns the Communard Louise Michel for failing to extricate herself from a western colonialist perspective in her judgments of cannibalism.
For most of her life, Louise Michel was the strident activist and intransigent ex-Communard whose single-minded devotion to the cause of revolution was one source of her nickname: "The Red Virgin." But in the story of Michel, there were additional elements that sparked the interest of the Iowa Icariennes: her experience as a female "soldier" in the Commune's army; the passion she brought to the cause of worker's and women's rights; and, related to these, a utopian dream and burgeoning communalist spirit borne of her experiences in 1871.
The main characters for the anarchists and populists include Louise Michel, 'Stepniak' (Sergei Kravchinsky), Nicholas Chaikovsky, Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Elisee Relcus, Johann Most, Emma Goldman and the indefinable aristocratic, loaded newshound, 'chancer' and anti-Semite the Marquis Henri de Rochefort-Lucay, and for their police adversaries, the ur-political policeman, Colonel Wilhelm Stieber of the Prussian police and Russian Third Section involvement, Peter Rachkovsky (of the Okhrana), William Melville (of British Special Branch), Allan Pinkerton (of the self-same American private agency) and a host of Belgian, French and Italian colleagues.
Fittingly, the lead characters' names derive from 19th century French anarchist Louise Michel. Moreau again demonstrates her extraordinary versatility (think of her moving perf in the self-directed "When the Sea Rises"), limiting the expression on her heavy-set, dispassionate face and brilliantly underplaying every reaction to achieve maximum comic effect.