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Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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BRUNO PAULIN GASTON PARIS (1839-1903), French scholar, son of Paulin Paris, was born at Avenay (Marne) on the 9th of August 183 9. In his childhood Gaston Paris learned to appreciate the Old French romances as poems and stories, and this early impulse to the study of Romance literature was placed on a solid basis by courses of study at Bonn (1856-1857) under Friedrich Diez, at Göttingen (1857-1858) and finally at the Ecole des Chartes (1858-1861). His first important work was an Etude sur le role de l'accent latin dans la langue francaise (1862). The subject was developed later in his Lettre a M. Leon Gautier sur la versification latine rhythmique (1866). Gaston Paris maintained that French versification was a natural development of popular Latin methods which depended on accent rather than quantity, and were as widely different from classical rules as the Low Latin was from the classical idiom. For his degree as doctor he presented a thesis on the Histoire poetique de Charlemagne (1865). He succeeded his father as professor of medieval French literature at the College de France in 1872; in 1876 he was admitted to the Academy of Inscriptions and in 1896 to the French Academy; and in 1895 he was appointed director of the College de France. Gaston Paris won a European reputation as a Romance scholar. He had learnt German methods of exact research, but besides being an accurate philologist he was a literary critic of great acumen and breadth of view, and brought a singularly clear mind to bear on his favourite study of medieval French literature. His Vie de Saint-Alexis (1872) broke new ground and provided a model for future editors of medieval texts. It included the original text and the variations of it dating from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. Gaston Paris contributed largely to the Histoire litteraire de la France, and with Paul Meyer published Romania, a journal devoted to the study of Romance literature. Among his other numerous works may be mentioned Les Plus anciens monuments de la langue francaise (1875); a Manuel d'ancien Frangais (1888); an edition of the Mystere de la passion d'Arnoul Greban (1878), in collaboration with M. Gaston Raynaud; Deux redactions du roman des sept sages de Rome (1876); a translation of the Grammaire des langues romanes (1874-1878) of Friedrich Diez, in collaboration with MM. Brachet and MorelFatio. Among his works of a more popular nature are La Poesie du moyen dge (1885 and 1895); Penseurs et poetes (1897); Poemes et legendes du moyen dge (1900); Francois Villon (Igor), an admirable monograph contributed to the "Grands Ecrivains Frangais" series; Legendes du moyen age (1903). His excellent summary of medieval French literature forms a volume of the Temple Primers. Gaston Paris endeared himself to a wide circle of scholars outside his own country by his unfailing urbanity and generosity. In France itself he trained at the Ecole des Chartes and the College de France a band of disciples who continued the traditions of exact research that he established. Among them were: Leopold Pannier; Marius Sepet, the author of Le Drame chretien au moyen age (1878) and of the Origines catholiques du theatre moderne (1901); Charles Joret; Alfred Morel-Fatio; Gaston Raynaud, who is responsible for various volumes of the excellent editions published by the Societe des anciens textes francais; Arsene Darmesteter and others. Gaston Paris died in Paris on the 6th of. March 1903.

See "Hommage a Gaston Paris" (1903), the opening lecture of his successor, Joseph Bedier, in the chair of medieval literature at the College de France; A. Thomas, Essais de philologie francaise (1897); W. P. Ker, in the Fortnightly Review (July, 1904); M. Croiset, Notice sur Gaston Paris (1904); J. Bedier et M. Rogues, Bibliographie des travaux de Gaston Paris (1904).

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica.​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​b/bruno-paulin-gaston-paris.html. 1910.