Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian
château of Florian, near Sauve
– September 13
) was a French poet
and romance writer
His mother, a Spanish lady named Gilette de Salgues, died when he was a child. His uncle and guardian, the Marquis of Florian
, who had married a niece of Voltaire
, introduced him at Ferney
and in 1768 he became page at Anet
in the household of the Duc de Penthièvre
, who remained his friend throughout his life. Having studied for some time at the artillery
school at Bapaume
he obtained from his patron a captains commission in a dragoon regiment. On the outbreak of the French Revolution
he retired to Sceaux
, but he was soon discovered and imprisoned; and though his imprisonment was short he died a few months later.
Florian's first literary efforts were comedies; his verse epistle Voltaire et le serf du Mont Jura
and an eclogue Ruth
were crowned by the French Academy
in 1782 and 1784 respectively. In 1782 also he produced a one-act prose comedy, Le Bon Ménage
, and in the next year Galatie
, a romantic tale in imitation of the Galatea
. Other short tales and comedies followed, and in 1786 appeared Numa Pompilius
, an undisguised imitation of Fénelon
In 1788 he became a member of the French Academy, and published Estelle, a pastoral of the same class as Galatie. Another romance, Gonzalve de Cordoue, preceded by an historical notice of the Moors, appeared in 1791, and his famous collection of Fables in 1802. Among his posthumous works are La Jeunesse de Florian, ou Mémoires d'un Jeune Espagnol (1807), and an abridgment (1809) of Don Quixote, which, though far from being a correct representation of the original, had great and merited success.
Florian imitated Salomon Gessner, the Swiss idyllist, and his style has all the artificial delicacy and sentimentality of the Gessnerian school. Perhaps the nearest example of the class in English literature is afforded by John Wilson's (Christopher North's) Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life. Among the best of his fables are reckoned The Monkey showing the Magic Lantern, The Blind Man and the Paralytic, and The Monkeys and the Leopard.
List of Selected Works
- The Blind man and the Paralytic
- The Monkey and the Magic Lantern
- The Monkeys and the Leopard
- The Fable and the Truth
- ''The Crocodile and the Sturgeon'
- The Child and the Mirror
- The Old Tree and the Gardener
- The Nightingale and the Prince
- The Two TravelersTheatre
- Les Deux Billets (1779)
- Le Bon Ménage (1782)
- Le Bon Père (1784)
- Les Jumeaux de Bergame (1782)Other
- Variétés et contes en vers
- Plaisir d'amour, a song
- Mémoires d'un jeune Espagnol
Florian wrote a collection of fables. From these fables several expressions have passed into colloquial French:
- Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés: "In order to live happily, live hidden"
- Chacun son métier, les vaches seront bien gardées: "To each his occupation, and the cows will be well guarded."
- Rira bien qui rira le dernier: "He who laughs last laughs best."
The expresion éclairer la lanterne ("light the lantern") is also drawn from Florian's fables.
- Florian, Fables, edited by Jean-Noël Pascal, Ferney-Voltaire, Centre international d'étude du XVIIIe siècle, 2005, ISBN 2-84559-032-6
- Florian le fabuliste by Jean-Luc Gourdin, biography, Ramsay, 2003.
- Florian, l'homme à fables, illustrated by Jean-François Ramirez, collection of 40 fables selected by Florian Mantione, 1997, Edition Athéna-Paris