The Nobel Prize in Literature 1904
Born: 8 September 1830, Maillane, France
Died: 25 March 1914, Maillane, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Prize motivation: “in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist”
Prize share: 1/2
Frédéric Mistral was born in Maillane in Provence, France, where he lived his entire life. He came from a family of affluent landowners who settled in Provence in the 16th century. Mistral studied law but came to devote himself entirely to writing poetry in Provençal, a literary language dating back to the 12th century that originated in the region. In 1854 he founded the Felibrige literary society for preservation of the Provençal language and culture. Mistral donated his prize money to a museum dedicated to Provençal folk art.
Frédéric Mistral’s passion for poetry was sparked by one of his teachers, the Provençal poet Joseph Roumanille. Provence permeates the content and feeling of his works as well as their language. It became the main character in all his poems. He spent many years compiling Trésor dóu Félibrige, a dictionary of the Provençal language published by the Felibrige literary society, which he founded himself. His most important work, Miréio, was published in 1859, the result of eight years of work.
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