Taine, Hippolyte Adolphe (18281893)

Taine, Hippolyte Adolphe, an eminent French critic and historian, born at Vouziers, in Ardennes; after some years of scholastic drudgery in the provinces returned to Paris, and there, by the originality of his critical method and brilliancy of style soon took rank among the foremost French writers; in 1854 the Academy crowned his essay on Livy; ten years later became professor of Æsthetics at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and in 1878 was admitted to the French Academy; his voluminous writings embrace works on the philosophy of art, essays critical and historical, volumes of travel-impressions in various parts of Europe; but his finest work is contained in his vivid and masterly studies on “Les Origines de la France Contemporaine” and in his “History of English Literature” (1833-4; Eng. trans, by Van Laun), the most penetrative and sympathetic survey of English literature yet done by a foreigner; he was a disciple of Sainte-Beuve, but went beyond his master in ascribing character too much to external environment (18281893).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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