World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sully Prudhomme

Article Id: WHEBN0000050722
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sully Prudhomme  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nobel Prize in Literature, List of Nobel laureates in Literature, Société des poètes français, Jaroslav Seifert, Vicente Aleixandre
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Sully Prudhomme

Sully Prudhomme
Born René François Armand Prudhomme
(1839-03-16)16 March 1839
Paris, France
Died 6 September 1907(1907-09-06) (aged 68)
Châtenay-Malabry, France
Occupation Poet and Essayist
Nationality French
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature

René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme (French: ; 16 March 1839 – 6 September 1907) was a French poet and essayist, and was the first ever winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1901.

Born in Paris, Prudhomme originally studied to be an engineer, but turned to philosophy and later to poetry; he declared it as his intent to create scientific poetry for modern times. In character sincere and melancholic, he was linked to the Parnassus school, although, at the same time, his work displays characteristics of its own.

Early life

Prudhomme attended the Lycée Bonaparte, but eye trouble interrupted his studies. He worked for a while in the Creusot region for the Schneider steel foundry, and then began studying law in a notary's office. The favourable reception of his early poems by the Conférence La Bruyère (a student society) encouraged him to begin a literary career.


His first collection, Stances et Poèmes ("Stanzas and Poems", 1865), was praised by Sainte-Beuve. It included his most famous poem, Le vase brisé. He published more poetry before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. This war, which he discussed in Impressions de la guerre (1872) and La France (1874), permanently damaged his health.

During his career, Prudhomme gradually shifted from the sentimental style of his first books towards a more personal style which unified the formality of the Parnassian school with his interest in philosophical and scientific subjects. The inspiration was clearly Lucretius's De rerum natura, for the first book of which he made a verse translation. His philosophy was expressed in La Justice (1878) and Le Bonheur (1888). The extreme economy of means employed in these poems has, however, usually been judged as compromising their poetical quality without advancing their claims as works of philosophy. He was elected to the Académie française in 1881. Another distinction, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, was to follow in 1895.

After, Le Bonheur, Prudhomme turned from poetry to write essays on aesthetics and philosophy. He published two important essays: L'Expression dans les beaux-arts (1884) and Réflexions sur l'art des vers (1892), a series of articles on Blaise Pascal in La Revue des Deux Mondes (1890), and an article on free will (La Psychologie du Libre-Arbitre, 1906) in the Revue de métaphysique et de morale.

Nobel Prize

The first writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (given "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect"), he devoted the bulk of the money he received to the creation of a poetry prize awarded by the Société des gens de lettres. He also founded, in 1902, the Société des poètes français with Jose-Maria de Heredia and Leon Dierx.


At the end of his life, his poor health (which had troubled him ever since 1870) forced him to live almost as a recluse at Châtenay-Malabry, suffering attacks of paralysis while continuing to work on essays. He died suddenly on 6 September 1907, and was buried at Père-Lachaise in Paris.



Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:

  • 1865: Stances et poèmes
  • 1866: Les épreuves
  • 1868: Croquis italiens
  • 1869: Les solitudes: poésies [Les écuries d’Augias]
  • 1872: Les destins
  • 1874: La révolte des fleurs
  • 1874: La France
  • 1875: Les vaines tendresses
  • 1876: Le zénith, previously published in Revue des deux mondes
  • 1878: La justice
  • 1865–1888: Poésie
  • 1886: Le prisme, poésies diverses
  • 1888: Le bonheur
  • 1908: Épaves


Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in literature" article:

  • 1883–1908: Œuvres de Sully Prudhomme (poetry and prose), 8 volumes, A. Lemerre
  • 1896: Que sais-je? (philosophy)
  • 1901: Testament poétique (essays)
  • 1905: La vraie religion selon Pascal (essays)
  • 1922: Journal intime: lettres-pensée

External links and references

  • Gale Contemporary Authors Online, from the Gale Biography Resource Center database
  • René Sully-Prudhomme at
  • Sully Prudhomme – Biography at
  • Sully Prudhomme
  • Le Zénith

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Prosper Duvergier de Hauranne
Seat 24
Académie française
Succeeded by
Henri Poincaré
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.