7 June 2017
Alphonse de Lamartine in Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire (71)
I translate from the description near Lamartine's monument in Mâcon:
'Alphonse de Lamartine was born in Mâcon on 21 October 1790 and died in Paris on 28 February 1869. A poet and a politician, he was one of the greatest figures in French romantic poetry.
'Alphonse de Lamartine was born into a family of minor nobility, monarchist, and Catholic in religion. He spent his childhood and adolescence in south Burgundy, where he received a literary education and devoured history books and philosophical essays. As a young man he led a lazy, womanising life and lost a great deal of money on gambling. In 1820 he married Mary Elisa Birch, a young English woman.
'Alphonse de Lamartine, the poet. In 1820 he published Méditations, his first collection of poems, which was a great success. He then published other poems such as Nouvelles méditations poétiques and La Mort de Socrate in 1823, and in June 1830 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses after being elected to the Académie française the year before.
'Alphonse de Lamartine, the politician. In 1820 he worked as a diplomat in Naples, Rome and Florence before giving it up to pursue a political career. He supported the July monarchy but failed to be elected député. He then travelled to the east, visited Greece, Lebanon and the holy Christian places. In 1833 he was elected député and remained one until 1851. His royalism changed to republicanism and he made noted speeches. He left politics after a heavy defeat in the presidential election which brought Louis Napoléon Bonaparte to power in December 1848.
'Crippled by debts, he wrote historical compilations in order to live: Cours familier de littérature (1856–69), Le Tailleur de pierre de Saint-Point (1851) and Graziella (1852). His last important poem, La Vigne et la maison, was written in 1857.
'Alphonse de Lamartine died in 1869 and lies in the family vault at Saint-Point castle.'