Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme (1839-1907) was the son of a French shopkeeper. He wanted to become an engineer, but an eye disease terminated his training at a polytechnic institute. He studied literature, and after a brief and unsuccessful interlude in industry, he took up law, though without much conviction, and worked in a solicitor’s office. Sully Prudhomme was a member of the «Conference La Bruyère», a distinguished student society, and the favourable reception that his fellow members gave to his juvenilia encouraged him to go on writing poetry. His first volume, Stances et Poèmes (1865) [Stanzas and Poems], was well reviewed by Sainte-Beuve and established his reputation. Sully Prudhomme combined a Parnassian regard for formal perfection and elegance with philosophic and scientific interests, which are revealed, for instance, in his translation of the first book of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (1878-79). Some of his other poetic works are: Croquis Italiens (1866-68) [Italian Notebook]; Solitudes (1869); Impressions de la guerre (1870) [Impressions of War]; Les Destins (1872) [Destinies]; La Révolte des fleurs (1872) [Revolt of the Flowers ]; La France (1874); Les Vaines Tendresses (1875) [Vain Endearments]; La Justice (1878); and Le Bonheur (1888) [Happiness]. Les Epaves (1908) [Flotsam], published posthumously, was a collection of miscellaneous poems. A collected edition of his writings in five volumes appeared in 1900-01. He also wrote essays and a book on Pascal, La Vraie Religion selon Pascal (1905) [Pascal on true Religion]. Sully Prudhomme was a member of the French Academy from 1881 until his death in 1907.
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Sully Prudhomme died on September 7, 1907.
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