1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Deschamps, Émile

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7918321911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8 — Deschamps, Émile

DESCHAMPS, ÉMILE (1791–1871), French poet and man of letters, was born at Bourges on the 20th of February 1791. The son of a civil servant, he adopted his father’s career, but as early as 1812 he distinguished himself by an ode, La Paix conquise, which won the praise of Napoleon. In 1818 he collaborated with Henri de Latouche in two verse comedies, Selmours de Florian and Le Tour de faveur. He and his brother were among the most enthusiastic disciples of the cénacle gathered round Victor Hugo, and in July 1823 Émile founded with his master the Muse française, which during the year of its existence was the special organ of the romantic party. His Études françaises et étrangères (1828) were preceded by a preface which may be regarded as one of the manifestos of the romanticists. The versions of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1839) and of Macbeth (1844), important as they were in the history of the romantic movement, were never staged. He was the author of several libretti, among which may be mentioned the Roméo et Juliette of Berlioz. The list of his more important works is completed by his two volumes of stories, Contes physiologiques (1854) and Réalités fantastiques (1854). He died at Versailles in April 1871. His Œuvres complètes were published in 1872–1874 (6 vols.).

His brother, Antoine François Marie, known as Antony Deschamps, was born in Paris on the 12th of March 1800 and died at Passy on the 29th of October 1869. Like his brother, he was an ardent romanticist, but his production was limited by a nervous disorder, which has left its mark on his melancholy work. He translated the Divina Commedia in 1829, and his poems, Dernières Paroles and Résignation, were republished with his brother’s in 1841.