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Émile Faguet

Émile Faguet
Portrait of Faguet, by Henri Mannes
Born Auguste Émile Faguet
(1847-12-17)17 December 1847
La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée
Died 7 June 1916(1916-06-07) (aged 68)
Occupation Literary critic, and author
Alma mater École normale supérieure
Notable works The Cult of Incompetence
Spouse Suzanne Travichon
Children none

Auguste Émile Faguet (French pronunciation: ​; 17 December 1847 – 7 June 1916) was a French author and literary critic.[1][2]


  • Biography 1
  • Philosophy 2
  • Works 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Faguet was born at La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée, and educated at the École normale supérieure in Paris. After teaching for some time in La Rochelle and Bordeaux, he returned to Paris to act as assistant professor of poetry in the university. He became professor in 1897. He was elected to the Académie française in 1900, and received the ribbon of the Légion d'honneur in the next year.

He acted as dramatic critic to the Soleil; from 1892 he was literary critic to the Revue Bleue; and in 1896 took the place of Jules Lemaître on the Journal des débats. He died in Paris, aged 68.



"The man of the middle class ought to lead society. The simple truth is that he has led it, ever since there has been such a thing, as if predestined to do so. In this case theory is confirmed by the fact. The man of the middle class leads society because it is he who creates public opinion."[3]

"Law is an aristocratic thing; only the emergency law, the decree, is democratic. For this reason Montesquieu always speaks of a monarchy as being limited, and, at the same time, maintained by its law. What did this mean in his day, when there was no “expression of the general will” to limit monarchy, and when royalty possessed legislative power, and could at will make and remake laws? It could only mean one thing, namely, that Montesquieu’s conception of law was the same as that of the ancient sociologists, — law far older than his time, “fundamental laws” as he calls them, of the ancient monarchy, which still bind and ought so to bind the monarch, whose rule without them would be despotism or anarchy. Law is essentially aristocratic. It ordains that rulers should govern the people, and that the dead should govern the rulers. The very essence of aristocracy is the rule of those who have lived over those who live, for the benefit of those who shall live hereafter. Aristocracy, properly so called, is an aristocracy in the flesh. Law is a spiritual aristocracy. Aristocracy, as represented by the aristocrats of to-day, only represents the dead by tradition, inheritance, education, physiological heredity of temperament and characteristics. Law does not represent the dead, it is the dead themselves, it is their very thought perpetuated in immutable script."[4]

"The cult of himself is not to be recommended to any individual; but to a people the cult of itself must be presented as a duty. Even if patriotism was not a duty, it would be a necessity, so long as there are other countries wherein it has not gone out of fashion."[5]


"It is true that taste is incommunicable and that thinking cannot be taught. But if a teacher cannot teach his pupils to have taste, he can show taste in the presence of a hundred of them and excite them to its attainment; it is only an excitation, but it may be potent, and if he cannot teach them thinking, he can think in their presence and excite them to think for themselves, and it is only an excitation, but it is vital.

Such teaching, to be accurate, is not teaching; it is intercourse; it consists in living intellectually with the young, who, on their part, are living intellectually, and whom your intellectual life arouses, keeps curious and eager, and encourages. That is all."[6]


  • De Aurelii Prudentii Clementis Carminibus Lyricis (1883).
  • La Tragédie Française au XVIe Siècle (1883).
  • Corneille (1885).
  • La Fontaine (1889).
  • Notes sur le Théatre Contemporain, (3 vols., 1889–1891).
  • Politiques et Moralistes du XIXe Siècle (1891).[7]
  • Voltaire (1895).
  • Cours de Poésie Française de l'Université de Paris (1897).
  • Drame Ancien, Drame Moderne (1898).
  • Questions Politiques (1899).
  • Flaubert (1899).
  • Discours de Réception de M. Émile Faguet (1901).
  • André Chénier (1902).
  • Propos Littéraires (5 vols., 1902–1910).
  • Zola (1903).
  • Le Libéralisme (1903).
  • Propos de Théâtre (5 vols., 1903–1910).
  • Simplification Simple de l’Orthographe (1905).
  • Pour qu’on Lise Platon (1905).
  • L'Anticléricalisme (1906).
  • Le Socialisme en 1907 (1907).
  • Problèmes Politiques du Temps Présent (1907).
  • Le Pacifisme (1908).
  • Discussions Politiques (1909).
  • La Démission de la Morale (1910).
  • Les Dix Commandements (10 vols., 1909–1910):
    • De l'Amour de Soi
    • De l'Amour.
    • De la Famille.
    • De l'Amitié.
    • De la Vieillesse.
    • De la Profession.
    • La Patrie.
    • De la Vérité.
    • Le Devoir.
    • De Dieu.
  • Études Littéraires (1910).
  • Madame de Sévigné (1910).
  • Le Féminisme (1910).
  • Les Amies de Rousseau (1910).
  • Rousseau Contre Molière (1910).
  • Vie de Rousseau (1911).
  • En Lisant les Beaux Vieux Livres (1911).
  • La Poésie Française (1911).
  • Les Préjugés Nécessaires (1911).
  • Rousseau Penseur (1912).
  • Rousseau Artiste (1912).
  • La Prose Française (1912).
  • Ce que Disent les Livres (1912).
  • L’Art de Lire (1912).
  • De l'Idée de Patrie (1913).
  • Monseigneur Dupanloup: Un Grand Évêque (1914).
  • En Lisant Molière (1914).
  • Chansons d'un Passant (1921).

In English translation

  • Politicians & Moralists of the Nineteenth Century (1899).
  • A Literary History of France (1907).[8]
  • "French Seventeenth Century Literature and its European Influence." In: The Cambridge Modern History (1908).
  • The Cult of Incompetence (1911).
  • Balzac (1914).
  • Flaubert (1914).
  • The Dread of Responsibility (1914).[9][10]
  • Initiation into Literature (1914).
  • Initiation into Philosophy (1914).
  • On Reading Nietzsche (1918).

Selected articles

  • "Mme de Staël," Revue des Deux Mondes 83, 1887.
  • "M. Ferdinand Brunetière," La Revue de Paris 1, 1894.
  • "Le Livre a Paris," Cosmopolis 5, 1897.
  • "Mesdames, Bientot au Vote!," La Revue des Deux Frances 4, 1898.
  • "Corrections de Flaubert", La Revue Bleue, 3 June 1899.
  • "All About a Hat," The Living Age 8, September 1900.
  • "The Symbolical Drama," The International Quarterly 8, September 1903/March 1904.
  • "Andrew Lang's 'The Mysteries of History'," The Sewanee Review 16, 1908.
  • "Philosophie Scientifique." In: Henri Poincaré: Biographie, Bibliographie Analytique des Écrits, 1909.
  • "La Vie de Nietzsche," Revue des Deux Mondes 58, 1910.
  • "Essais et Notices," Revue des Deux Mondes, LXXXe Année, 1910.
  • "François Maynard," Revue des Pyrénées 23, 1911.
  • "Viele-Griffin," La Revue Bleue, 15 April 1912.
  • "Thiers," Revue des Deux Mondes, XCe Année, 1920.
  • "On the Nature of the Dramatic Emotion," The Tulane Drama Review 3 (2), 1958.


  • Preface to Guillaume Guizot's Montaigne: Études et Fragments (1899).
  • Introduction to Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes (1900).
  • Preface to Édouard Ruel's Du Sentiment Artistique dans la Morale de Montaigne (1901).
  • Preface to Séché & Bertaut's L'Évolution du Théâtre Contemporain (1908).
  • Preface to Joseph Grasset's The Marvels Beyond Science (1910).
  • Preface to André Gayot's Une Ancienne Muscadine, Fortunée Hamelin (1911).
  • Preface to Arthur Meyer's Ce Que Mes Yeux On Vu (1911).
  • Preface to Jean Harmand's A Keeper of Royal Secrets: Being the Private and Political Life of Madame De Genlis (1913).
  • Introduction to Pierre Marivaux's Théâtre (1915).
  • Introduction to Lessage's Gil Blas (n.d.)
  • Introduction to Paul Courier's Lettres et Pamphlets (n.d.)
  • Introduction to Alfred de Musset's Poésies (n.d.)

See also


  1. ^ Kitchin, William P.H. (1917). "Émile Faguet," The Catholic World, Vol. 105, No. 625, pp. 343–351.
  2. ^ Gosse, Edmund (1922). "Two French Critics: Émile Faguet-Remy de Gourmont." In: Aspects and Impressions. London: Cassell & Company, Ltd., pp. 203–223.
  3. ^ Quoted by John Corbin, The Return of the Middle Class. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922, p. 339 (footnote).
  4. ^ The Cult of Incompetence. London: John Murray, 1911, pp. 89–90.
  5. ^ Quoted by Brander Matthews, The American of the Future and Other Essays. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909, p. 120.
  6. ^ Quoted by Herman Harrell Horne, The Teacher as Artist: An Essays in Education as an Aesthetic Process. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917, pp. 55–56.
  7. ^ "M. Émile Faguet and the Eighteenth Century," The Edinburgh Review, Vol. CXCVI, 1902.
  8. ^ "A Literary History of France," The Author, Vol. VIII, 1908.
  9. ^ Putnam, James J. (1915). "The Dread of Responsibility," Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 434–438.
  10. ^ Garner, J.W. (1915). "The Dread of Responsibility by Émile Faguet," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 399–401.

Further reading

  • Bordeaux, Henry (1924). Portraits d'Hommes. Paris: Plon-Nourrit & Cie.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.): Émile Faguet.
  • Duval, Maurice (1911). Émile Faguet, le Critique, le Moraliste, le Sociologue. Paris: Société Française d'Imprimerie et de Libraire.
  • Dyrkton, Joerge (1996). "The Liberal Critic as Ideologue: Émile Faguet and fin-de-siècle Reflections on the Eighteenth Century," History of European Ideas, Vol. 22, Nos. 5-6, pp. 321–336.
  • Gourmont, Remy de (1909). "Le Musset des Familles", Promenades Littéraires, 3e Série.
  • Scheifley, William H. (1917). Brieux and Contemporary French Society. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Séché, Alphonse (1904). Emile Faguet. Paris: Sansot.
  • Wilmotte, Maurice (1907). Trois Semeurs d'Idées: Agénor de Gasparin, Emile de Laveleye, Emile Faguet. Paris: Fischbacher.

External links

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