Mistral, Frédéric (8 September 1830 - 25 March 1914)

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Frédéric Mistral (8 September 1830 - 25 March 1914)

Anabel Reeser
Baylor University






1904 Nobel Prize in Literature Presentation Speech

BOOKS: Mirèio: Pouèmo prouvençau [includes French translation as Mireille] (Avignon: J. Roumanille, 1859); translated by C. H. Grant as An English Version (The Original Crowned by the French Academy) of Frédéric Mistral’s Mirèio from the Original Provencal under the Author’s Sanction (Avignon: J. Roumanille, 1867); translated by Hugh Crichton as Mirelle: A Pastoral Epic of Provence (London: Macmillan, 1868);

Calendau, pouèTo nouvèu: Traduction française en regard (Avignon: J. Roumanille, 1867);

Lis Isclo d’or (Avignon: J. Roumanille, 1876); revised as Les Iles d’or, volume 3 of Euvres de Frédéric Mistral (Paris: Lemerre, 1889);

Discours de Frederi Mistral pèr l’uberturo di jo flourau de Mount Pelié (Santo Estello, 1878) (Avignon: Gros frères, 1878);

Lou Trésor dóu Félibrige, ou, Dictionnaire provençal français, embrassant les dives dialectes de la lange d’oc moderne, 2 volumes (Aix-en-Provence: Veuve Remondet Aubin,1878, 1886);

Nerte, nouvelle provençale par Frédéric Mistral, avec la traduction française en regard (Paris: Hachette, 1884);

Œuvres de Frédéric Mistral, Petite Bibliothèque Littéraire, 6 volumes, edited by Alphonse Lemerre (Paris: Lemerre, 1886-1921)—comprises volume 1, Mireille (1886); volume 2, Calendal (1887); volume 3, Les Iles d’or (1889); volume 4, Nerte (1910); volume 5, Les Olivades (1912); and volume 6, La Reine Jeanne (1921);

La Reine Jeanne: Tragédie provençale en cinq actes et en vers (Paris: Lemerre, 1890);

Les Secrets des Bêtes (Paris: Henry Floury, 1896);

Le Poème du Rhône, en XII chants: Texte provençal et traduction franþaise (Paris: Lemerre, 1897); translated by

Maro Beath Jones as Anglore: The Song of the Rhone (Claremont, Cal.: Saunders, 1937);

Moun espelido: Memòri e raconte de Frederi Mistral (Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1906); translated by Constance Elisabeth Maud and Alma Strettell as Mémoirs of

Mistral (London: Edward Arnold, 1907); translated by George Wickes as The Memoirsi of Frédéric Mistral (New York: New Directions, 1986);

Discours e dicho de F. Mistral (Avignon:Secretariat gen erau dóu Flourege, 1906);

Les Olivades (Paris: Lemerre, 1912);

Excursion en Italie / Escourregudo pèr l’Itàli, by Mistral and Marie Mistral, with French translation by Charles Maurras (Paris: Cadran, 1930);

La Gerbe de Mistral à l’autel de Marie: Poèmes et cantiques oubliés, edited and translated by Alphonse David (Paris: B1oud & Gay, 1930).

Editions and Collections: Œuvres inédites de Frédéric Mstral:Prose d’Almanach, edited by Marie Mistral, translated by Pierre Dévoluy (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1926);

Œuvres inédites de Frédéric Mistral: Nouvelle prose d’Almanach,

edited by Marie Mistral, translated by Dévoluy (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1927);

Œuvres inédites de Frédéric Mistral: Dernière prose d’Almanach, edited by Marie Mistral, translated by Dévoluy (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1930);

Œuvres poétiques complètes, 2 volumes, edited by Pierre Rollet (Aix-en-Provence: Edicioun Ramoun Berenguié, 1966);

Ecrits politiques, edited by René Jouveau and Pierrette

Berengier (Marseilles: Provento d’aro, 1989);

Mirèio: Pouèmo provençau emé la traducioun literalo e li noto, foreword by Charles Rostaing (Berro: Lou Relarg Berraten, 1989).

Edition in English: Mirèio: A Provençal Poem, translated by Harriet Waters Preston (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1872).

TRANSLATION: La Genèsi, traducho en prouvençau pèr Frederi Mistral: Emé lou latin de la Vulgato vis-à-vis e lou francès en dessouto pèr J.-J. Brousson e, en tèsto, lou retra dóu felibre (Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1910).

OTHER: Poems by Mistral, in Le Prouvençalo, edited by Joseph Roumanille (Avignon: Seguin aîné, 1852).

In his long life, Frédéric Mistral wrote two collections of poetry, four long narrative poems, and a play. He also edited two periodicals, created a museum, and helped found the literary club known as the Félibrige, which still exists. Mistral’s aim in all these activities was to preserve his native language, Provençal, a Romance language descended from Latin and close to Catalan. He received many accolades for his efforts, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Hall in eastern Germany in 1889, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1904.

Provence is in southeastern France, with one border on the Mediterranean. The entire southern French region is often called the Midi. “Provençal” can refer collectively to all dialects of the Midi, and in this global use is a synonym of the word “Occitan.” “Provençal” can also refer specifically to the dialect of Provence, and Mistral aspired to make this dialect the norm for the Midi, following the example of Dante, who had elevated his own dialect of Italian to literary status, making it the norm for all of Italy. Mistral believed that as long as a language was being written, it could survive, so he determined to create a literature in Provençal, beginning with his own works. In order to write on a literary level in Provencal, Mistral aimed to replace some of the French borrowings that had entered Provencal, as many speakers of Provencal were bilingual. However, he did not create an artificial language, or a koinè, as Philippe Blanchet points out, because his first attempt was always to replace a borrowed French word with a Provencal word in current use. Mistral’s classical education in French, Greek, and Latin, as well as his philological enquiries, enabled him to make some knowledgeable borrowings from the other regions of the Midi or from the medieval Langue d’Oc, used by the troubadours of the Midi, or even occasionally from Latin. As Fausta Garavini comments, Mistral transformed the Provencal of his day into “un instrument littéraire d’une vigueur et d’une souplesse étonnantes” (a literary instrument of astonishing vigor and suppleness).

Frédéric-Etienne-Joseph Mistral was born on 8 September 1830 on a farm called the Mas du Juge (the Judge’s Farm) near the small town of Maillane (Bouches-du-Rhône) in Provence, one of the old provinces into which France was divided before 1792. In his autobiography, Moun espelido: Memòri e raconte de Frederi Mistral (1906; translated as Mémoirs of Mistral, 1907), Mistral describes his parents. His father, François Mistral, had fought in the revolutionary wars. He and his first wife, Françoise Laville, had a daughter, Marie (born in 1801), and a son, Louis (born in 1807). After his first wife’s death, Francois Mistral met Marguerite-Adélaïde Poulinet (which some biographers and critics spell “Poullinet”) in a crowd of poor people who were picking up the leavings in his wheat field. Her father, the mayor of Maillane, had told his children that if they wanted any spending money, they would have to earn it themselves. François Mistral and Adélaïde Poulinet married on 26 November 1828, when he was fifty-seven years old and she was twenty-five. Frédéric was their only child.

François Mistral owned and worked the extensive farming operation of the Mas du Juge, inherited from his father; the work included, in season, plowing the land, harvesting olives, herding sheep, and gathering silkworms’ cocoons. He was a meinagié (ménager in French), which meant, in Mistral’s region, that he belonged to a type of farming aristocracy. He was between the bourgeois and the peasant, neither a farm laborer on other people’s land nor living on the income from the farm without working on it himself.

Mistral’s father was a patriarch who inspired respect and affection. At his table, many people were welcomed: all the farmhands, gleaners, and shepherds, as well as visitors. After dinner, François Mistral either discussed matters of work with the men or read to the group from one of his three favorite books: the New Testament, Thomas à Kempis’s fourteenth-century The Imitation of Christ, or Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605,1615).

Charles Mauron points out in his psychocritical study Etudes mistraliennes: Estudi Mistralen et autres recherches psychocritiques (1989) that the creative side of Mistral comes from his mother and her family. He calls it the “complexe Poullinet.. magique et pauvre” (Poullinet complex.. magic and poor), the source of the elements in Mistral’s work that are mysterious, disorganized, and changing, or of the characters who speak prophetically. Adélaïde Mistral actually planned to name her son “Nostradamus,” after the famous Provencal physician, philosopher, and seer. The mayor and the priest objected to the name, so Mistral was named instead for a young cousin, Victor-Frédéric Deville, who had carried messages for Mistral’s parents during their courtship. Etienne Poulinet, Adélaïde Mistral’s father, was also a meinagié like Francois Mistral. However, unlike the Mistrals, who worked hard, Poulinet rested from farming whenever the weather was too hot or too cold. Mistral also mentions in Moun espelido that his mother sang to him and taught him the lore of the Midi.

In Moun espelido, Mistral describes the linguistic influences that his family had on him. Provencal was disappearing. Families who wished to be considered bourgeois were affecting to speak only French at home. Mistral, whose family never abandoned Provencal, developed loyalty to the language early in life. He noticed that his parents were deferential to any bourgeois visitors who spoke French. Asking why they did not speak as his family did, he was told that it was because they were gentlemen: “Eh bien! Faisais-je alors d’un petit air farouche, moi, je ne veux pas être monsieur” (Well then, I answered, trying to look mean, I don’t want to be a gentleman).

Mistral was sent to school at the age of eight, but he often played hooky. The surrounding area of Maillane offered an amazing variety of sites and beautiful scenery. Mistral loved deeply the sights of his region, the natural surroundings, and the odor of the flowers. Because of his frequent absences, young Mistral was next sent, in 1839, to the Donnat boarding school, housed in the ruins of a monastery. Since the headmaster was often out canvassing for new students, Mistral and the other boarders had many opportunities to play out in the mountains.

In both schools, Mistral was required to learn French. He was already learning Latin. He saw that farming life, as he knew it, had been enjoyed in much the same form by ancient Romans. When Donnat closed his school, Mistral’s parents sent their son, at the age of twelve, to the Millet boarding school in Avignon. Mistral was then studying both Latin and Greek. In Avignon, Mistral began to be interested in the Republican Party, influenced by a study-hall teacher and several professors. The boys of his school, who were middleclass, made fun of Mistral, whose French was not as good as theirs. Anselme Mathieu, who spoke Provencal, was his only confidant. Mistral spent his second year of high school, 1843-1844, at the boarding school of Millet. He also went twice a day to take classes that were more demanding, at the Collège Royal.

The following year, Mistral went to the boarding school of Antoine Dupuy, in Avignon. There he met Joseph Roumanille, who was a young study-hall teacher, twelve years older than Mistral. Roumanille caught Mistral writing verses in Provencal, which was against school rules; but instead of punishing the youth, Roumanille read to him in Provençal from his own poetry later that afternoon. Mistral was delighted to hear Provencal used for noble poems. The two men remained lifelong friends. Mireille Bosqui describes how the two men studied old Provençal books and dreamed of restoring the Provencal language, because, as Mistral said, “j’étais ennuyé de voir que notre langue était toujours employée en manière de dérision” (I was vexed to see that our language was always used in a derisive way). Mistral also had become proficient in Latin and Greek and won many prizes as he finished high school.

In 1847 Mistral, not quite seventeen, went to Nîmes, where he took the baccalaureate examination. He passed both the Latin dictation and translation and the oral examination, which required encyclopedic knowledge. Mistral then returned to his father’s farmstead, where he began engaging in political activities on the Left, to his father’s dismay. Mistral’s father sent him to law school, partly in an effort to remove him from his republican activities in Maillane. Mistral spent the next three years in the law school of the University of Aixen- Provence. He continued his political activities there until the Coup d’État of 1851, when France became a republic. Rob Lyle records that Mistral, after much debate, eventually chose to support the monarchist position around 1872. He also advocated federalism, as in the United States or in Switzerland, as his ideal.

While in law school, Mistral also took courses from Louis Méry at the literature and humanities branch of the university. One of his formative discoveries was the Dictionnaire de la langue d’Oc ancienne et moderne (1846-1848) by Simon-jude Honnorat. He studied the Provencal troubadours and the other Occitan dialects. In 1851 Mistral successfully defended his law thesis, then returned home. It was a pleasant time for him, as he enjoyed outings with his friends, including Alphonse Daudet. When his father declared that he was free to choose his profession, he chose to write. Mistral had this option because his family had always been well-to-do, and he was never obliged to earn his living. In the autumn of 1851 he began writing Mirèio: Pouèmo prouvençau (1859; translated, 1867). When Mistral’s father lost his eyesight, Mistral also directed the family farm. He was good at it, he says in Moun espelido, and he enjoyed the work.

During this period at home Mistral also determined to save the Provencal language and culture. In a 1992 article, Philippe Gardy illustrates the precarious state of Provençal by this story: a visiting pastor delivered a sermon in Provençal, thinking to compliment his audience; instead, they were insulted to hear their native language used for something as dignified as a sermon. Mistral felt that a person’s native language is valuable because it expresses a culture and therefore cannot be replaced. Gérard Teulière cites Mistral’s statement that “Au founs d’uno lengo se ié soun depausa tóuti lis escaufèstre, tóuti li sentimen, tóuti li pens amen de dès, de vint, de trento, de cent generacioun” (Within the depths of a language are deposited all the fright, all the feelings, all the thoughts of ten, twenty, thirty, a hundred generations). Mistral wanted to reverse the current prohibition against speaking Provencal on the campus of any school. He further intended to make Provencal fashionable again by creating and promoting beautiful poetry (and other writing) in the language. He believed, as biographer Charles Rostaing explains, that as long as a language was being written, whether by distinguished or ordinary authors, it would survive.

Meanwhile, Mistral’s friend Roumanille also had been working for the cause of preserving Provençal. Even before meeting Mistral, he had been gathering around him young writers who sometimes wrote in Provençal. In 1852 he published an anthology, Le Prouvençalo, which included poems by Mistral. This collection was a deliberate departure from the previous mediocre, coarse publications in Provençal. Roumanille, collaborating with Mistral, also developed a system of spelling that was intended to be as phonetic as possible and applicable to all dialects of the Midi. Mistral had grave misgivings about it later but did persevere in using it.

Roumanille’s anthology inspired the idea of large informal meetings where poets could get acquainted and read their poems in public. A group began meeting yearly, first in 1852 at Aix, then in 1853 at Arles. In 1854 some young troubadours of the Avignon group decided to separate from the rest of the Provencal poets. A determining factor, according to Claude Mauron, was that the poet Jean-Baptiste Gaut was insisting on publishing a collection of all the poems that had been read at the Aix gathering. Mistral tried to dissuade him, complaining that the Provencal language should not be represented to the public by the low literary and linguistic quality of many of these poems, which were banal at best, and often nothing but translated French.

The Avignon group, with its notions of linguistic purity and literary quality, was motivated by the belief that the Provençal language had a future. Mistral explains in Moun espelido that he suggested the word “félibre” as a name. It occurs in a Provençal-language recitative, or a song with accompaniment, in which the melody and sentence structures are close to the spoken language. In this song, Saint Anselm has a vision of the Virgin Mary, who is telling Christ of the seven sorrows that she suffered for him. One of these sorrows, recounted in Luke 2: 46, tells of the time when Jesus, at the age of twelve, was separated from his family after Passover in Jerusalem. His family found the boy engaged in an intellectual discussion with the doctors of the Law in the Temple in Jerusalem, “li sét felibre de la li,” (the seven doctors of the Law) of the song. The name “Félibres” was adopted enthusiastically by those present at the founding of the literary society, to indicate the members. “Félibrige” would be the name of the group. Many articles have been written to suggest additional meanings of the word “félibre,” its derivation, or its associations with other ideas.

Some contemporaries disagreed with the Félibres’ belief about the future of the Provençal language. Victor Gelu, a noted songwriter and singer from Marseilles, was already one of the chief Provençal poets at the time of the two poetic congresses. He believed that he was one of the last poets of a dying language. Mistral admired Gelu, invited him to join the Félibrige, and the year after Gelu’s death, edited and wrote a preface to Gelu’s works. Gelu, however, had nothing but scorn for the Félibres and their grandiose plans to save the language from disappearing. The early association included Roumanille, Mathieu, Paul Giéra, Théodore Aubanel, Eugène Garcin, Alphonse Tavan, and Mistral. When, much later, in 1868, Garcin published an accusation of separatism against the Félibrige, his name was removed from the list of founding poets and replaced by that of Jean Brunet. Mistral names Font Segugne, in Provence, as the birthplace of the Félibrige. Pierre Rollet, editor of Mistral’s Euvres þoétiques complètes (1966, Complete Poetic Works), explains that the Félibrige probably developed over time in 1854 but that Mistral, a gifted organizer and publicist, realized that the society needed a precise birthday and list of founders. Soon, Aubanel suggested a family-oriented yearly almanac, the Armana Prouvençau, to promote respect for the language and to develop competent Provençal prose writing. First published in 1855, it was an immediate success and was still being published as of 2005. The Félibrige was organized formally in 1862, and Mistral became its first president. In 1876 the Félibres reorganized their society and established the “Sainte-Estelle,” a yearly banquet and business meeting of the entire Félibrige. These convivial events fostered solidarity.

The period of Mistral’s life at his home, the Mas du Juge, ended when his father died on 4 September 1855. François Mistral had made a will in 1854 that divided the inheritance between his two sons, Louis and Frédéric, because he considered that his daughter, Marie Ferrand (who had died in 1831), and her family had already received their share of the inheritance as gifts. Upon the patriarch’s death, however, Ferrand’s three children demanded a sum of money from the inheritance, forcing the sale of the contents of the Mas du Juge and the contents of another family property, the Mas du Cavalier. Louis and Frédéric Mistral were on good terms and agreed to avoid a lawsuit over this forced sale. The rest of the property was divided according to the will. The Mas du Juge went to Louis Mistral, so Frédéric Mistral and his mother left their home in a cart that was filled with their allotted possessions, followed by the family dog.

Mistral inherited two houses, along with several pieces of land. One was the Mas du Cavalier, where he never lived, and the other was a house in Maillane, later called “la Maison du Lézard” (the House with the Lizard), where he and his mother lived from 1855 to 1876. Mirèio, begun four years earlier, was finished there, as well as Mistral’s next two volumes.

An important development for Mistral was obtaining a famous French-speaking patron for Mirèio. His friend Adolphe Dumas suggested Alphonse de Lamartine, and on 29 August 1858 Mistral and Dumas went to Paris to meet the famous poet. Lamartine was impressed with the unpretentious manners of the young poet. Lamartine could read Provençal easily and was amazed by Mirèio.

Lamartine had launched Cours familier de littérature (Studies in Literature), a series that appeared monthly from 1856 to 1869 and for which he was the sole contributor. He devoted his Quarantième Entretien (Fortieth Discourse), which appeared in 1859, to Mistral. Lamartine’s eighty pages of highly laudatory prose on Mistral and Mirèio introduced the young poet to the world of French letters and made him known all over Europe.

In 1859 Mirèio was published in Avignon, with a translation and notes in French by Mistral. Pierre Dévoluy, in Mistral et la redemption d’une langue (1941, Mistral and the Redemption of a Language), contrasts the precision of detail of Mirèio with the nebulous “local color” of Romanticism: the characters are “en relief sur le paysage, semblent en sortir, font corps avec lui, ne sauraient en être séparés” (in silhouette against the countryside, [they] seem to rise up from it, form one body with it, could not possibly be separated from it). Lamartine praised the scenes created by Mistral. The poet’s firsthand knowledge of a working farm is revealed in details such as “La terro, bleto e silenciouso, Plan-plan devans la riho au soulèu se durbié” (the earth, crumbling and silent, /slowly, before the blade, opened up to the sun). Dévoluy praises Mistral’s rich and often technical vocabulary for creating, not boredom, as he would have expected, but a “fountain of poetry,” strings of metaphors that Garavini describes as “un lacis superbe d’arabesques... passages tissés de réussites éblouissantes.. où le langage s’enchevêtre dans ses propres meanders” (a superb network of arabesques.. entire passages woven of dazzling successes.. in which the language becomes entangled in its own sinuosities).

This epic poem in twelve cantos narrates the ill-fated love of two young people, both fifteen years old. Mirèio, the daughter of a wealthy farmer, meets an itinerant basket weaver, Vincèn. They fall in love, and Mirèio rejects three other suitors who come to propose marriage. One of the suitors, Ourrias, a cowherd from the Camargue, engages Vincèn in combat and leaves him for dead. Vincèn is healed by the witch Taven. When Mireio’s father discovers that the girl wants to marry Vincèn, he berates her. Angry and sorrowful, Mirèio flees to the Church of the Three Maries to pray for help. Her two-day journey takes her across the treeless Crau, beyond the Rhone, to the Camargue Delta. It is the end of June. When Mirèio finally reaches the church, she is faltering from the heat. The saints appear to her. Mireio’s parents and Vincèn arrive as she is dying.

The poem has many remarkable passages, such as the description of the heat during Mireio’s flight:

Lou blound dardai beluguejaire
Fai parèisse d’eissame, e d’eissame furoun,
D’essame de guèspo, que volon,
Mounton, davalon, e tremolon
Coume de lamo que s’amolon.

(The scintillating blond rays of the sun
are like swarms, furious swarms,
swarms of wasps that fly,
rise and descend, trembling,
like the blade of a knife that is being sharpened.)

Five editions of Mirèio appeared during Mistral’s lifetime. The poem received the Prix Monthyon of the Académie Française in 1861. Mireille, a five-act opera in French, was based on Mirèio, with music by Charles Gounod and the libretto by Michel Carré. The opera gave Mirèio a far larger public. Mirèio was also adapted by others for the theater, once with French text and twice in Provençal. Two movies were based on Mirèio, one in 1909 and one in 1933, as well as a television adaptation in 1997. Alphonse Roche, in “Le Centenaire de Mireille” (1960), mentions the worldwide festivities in 1959, which was the centenary of the work, and the many translations of Mirèio up to that date, including German, English, Swedish, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Italian, and Spanish. According to Gérard Baudin, by 1987 there were fiftyone translations.

Mistral’s second epic poem, Calendau, pouèTo nouvèu, was published in 1867. The settings of this poeminclude Cassis, a port town on the Mediterranean (Bouches-du-Rhône), St-Auban (Alpes-Maritime), and Mont Ventoux, known to the Italian poet Petrarch. The title character is a fisherman of Cassis who loves the mysterious Esterelle, a descendant of the great House of Baux. She has fled from her husband, Count Sévéran, upon discovering that he was the head of a band of thieves. She lives hidden in the mountains. The medieval ideal of courtly love, a Platonic concept, is an important aspect of the poem. Charles Mauron explains this concept: communing with beauty becomes the goal, replacing the goal of possession.

Calendau (in French, Calendal), trying to impress Esterelle, engages in a series of exploits reminiscent of Hercules. At first his efforts are disastrous: he catches all the fish in one part of the river, and he wantonly destroys an old evergreen forest and ancient beehives. Esterelle’s outrage leads him to a more spiritual outlook. He kills the notorious bandit Marco-Mau and eventually infiltrates Sévéran’s camp in order to draw Sévéran into combat. Sévéran, pursuing Calendau, tries to destroy him by setting the forest on fire; but the people of Cassis, grateful for the many good deeds of Calendau, put out the fire, just as Sévéran perishes beneath a burning log. Calendau becomes mayor of Cassis and marries Esterelle.

In 1898 an opera was made of Calendau, with music by Henri Maréchal and the libretto by Paul Ferrier. To Mistral’s great disappointment, Calendau was not as popular with the reading public as Mirèio. Daudet, however, was enthusiastic about Calendau. He wrote about it on 21 September 1866, referring to the efforts by the Félibrige to preserve their largely rural way of life and to keep Paris from further destroying the landscape: “et, maintenant tracez des chemins de fer, plantez des poteaux à télégraphes, chassez la langue provençale des écoles, LA PROVENCE VIVRA ETERNELLEMENT DANS MIREILLE ET DANS CALENDAL” (and now, go right ahead, Paris, and drive through your new railway lines, plant telegraph posts, banish the Provençal language from the schools, PROVENCE WILL LIVE ETERNALLY IN MIREILLE AND IN CALENDAL).

Daudet was responding to the regionalist, political aspects of the poem. Calendau, which glorifies Provence, includes a passage referring to the Albigensian Crusade of 1209, which effectively destroyed the sophisticated civilization of the Midi. Although claiming to extirpate the Cathar doctrine, considered heretical, the war was considered by thirteenth-century Catholics and Cathars alike to be a political effort by the north of France to destroy the Midi. Mistral, a Catholic, saw it the same way. In the notes included in the volume, Mistral wrote a pointed explanation of this passage. When asked by two printers to delete this note, he refused and found a third printer who agreed to take it.

In Mistral’s era, when Parisian centralism was being vigorously pursued, a poem such as Calendau could attract suspicion as supporting separatism. Later detractors could also cite certain poems such as “La Coumtesso” (1866, The Countess), comparing Provence to a countess who is imprisoned by her half sister (France), and the song “La Coupo” (The Cup), composed in 1867 for the strongly separatist Catalans. Mistral, however, always insisted that the Félibrige be politically neutral, neither a tool nor an adversary of any national regime. Because speakers of Provençal were a varied group, the Félibrige made it a point to welcome members from all parties and all religious leanings. Régis Bertrand, in his preface to Simon Calamel and Dominique Javel’s La langue d’oc pour étendard: Les Félibres (1854-2002) (2002, With Provençal as Their Banner: The Félibrige [1854-2002]), identifies the Félibrige as one of the national identity movements that took place all over Europe during the nineteenth century; but he qualifies the Félibrige as peaceable, not separatist. Personally, also, Mistral was never a separatist, although his loyalty to the French Second Empire under Napoleon III was complex. Although he blamed both Napoleon I and Napoleon III for tending to obliterate local cultures, he lamented the fall of France to Prussia in 1870. Mistral’s one political aim was to promote for the Midi enough autonomy to maintain its linguistic and cultural identity. To this end he leaned toward federalism for France, and even for Europe. Mistral looked to the individual when he explained his dual loyalty to region and country. In a speech on 31 March 1875 at Montpellier he said: “Lou grand patrioutisme nais de l’estacamen que l’on a pè soun endré, per si coustumo, per sa famiho, e li meiour sóudard, cresas-lou, soun pas aquéli que canton e que bramon après avé bego: es aquéli que plouron en quitant soun oustau” (fervent patriotism is born of the attachment that one has for his region, for his customs, for his family, and the best soldiers, believe me, are not those who bellow songs when they are drunk; it is those who weep when they leave home).

In 1868 Mistral visited the sanctuary of Montserrat in Catalonia with Victor M. Balaguer, the Catalan politician and writer. In 1867 the Félibres had given Balaguer asylum during his brief exile from Spain. The cult of the Virgin Mary was important to Mistral, and he was moved by the visit. Mistral took other guests with him, including Paul Meyer, a renowned scholar, so that he did not appear to be fomenting secession.

Before the war of 1870, the celebrations of the Félibres had always included Catalans from Spain, who felt that they were united with Provence by historical links and a common language. After the war, the Féli bres began to envision closer ties to other nations on the Mediterranean. They imagined an intellectual and cultural association with the “Empire of the Sun.”

On 27 September 1876 Mistral married Marie- Louise Aimée Riviére, from Dijon. When they married, Mistral built a house in Maillane near La Maison du Lézard, where his mother continued to live. Mistral’s usual day was simple but busy. He got up at 7:00 A.M. and went to bed at 9:00 P.M. He spent the morning answering letters from many people, including Lamartine, Daudet, and Stéphane Mallarmé. In the afternoon, he and his wife took a walk in the fields with their dogs. As he walked, he composed his poems. Back home, he wrote them down. He and his wife received visitors from many countries. His rare travels away from Maillane included several visits to Paris and a trip to Italy with his wife in 1891. The couple never had children.

In 1876 Lis Isclo d’or (The Isles of Gold), a collection of poems by Mistral with a biographical preface by the author, was published, with Mistral’s French translation. The title refers to the rocky islands south of the town of Hyères (Var). The Nobel Prize Committee particularly appreciated Lis Iscloor, and in his presentation speech, C. D. af Wirsén called Mistral a great lyricist, citing several poems from this collection. In “Lou Tambour d’Arcole (The Drum of Arcole), an aged drummer who had served Napoleon I sees a statue of himself as a boy by the side of Napoleon, placed by the golden dome of a church. Moved by this belated recognition, the old man dies. “La fin dóu Meissouni”(The Dying Mower) portrays the stoic words of an old farmer who is accidentally struck by the scythe of a younger man. In “Roumanin” (The Château of Roumanin), the poet, visiting at twilight the ruins of a Provençal château, speaks with ghosts of men and women from the medieval past. In “La Coumunioun di Sant” (The Communion of Saints), the statues of four saints watch every evening as a pious young woman leaves the church, and they propose among themselves the future they would like her to have. This miscellany surveys the poet’s preoccupations as they evolved over time. This collection presented a great variety of verse structures and lyrical forms, which Charles Rostaing attributes to a didactic purpose. The collection was immediately successful. A revised edition appeared in 1889; Mistral added seventeen new poems and deleted many pieces such as those used for toasts at specific occasions.

In 1881, 1892, 1896, and 1902, Mistral was invited to become a candidate for the Académie Française. He always declined because he would be obliged to use French during its meetings. Bosqui suggests that Mistral was also avoiding controversy within the academy. Mistral had heard that some members were questioning whether an author who did not write in French should be admitted to the Académie FranCaise. François Coppée and Pierre Loti were evasive when interviewed on the subject, and Henri Meilhac was opposed to Mistral’s entry, claiming that Provençal was almost as foreign to French as were Italian or Spanish. Daudet, on the other hand, championed Mistral’s candidacy, saying Mistral should have two seats in the academy: one to replace the late Emile Littré, because of Mistral’s work as a lexicographer, and the other to replace the late Charles Marie-Rene Leconte de Lisle, because of Mistral’s poetic creations. Mauron reports that Mistral courteously refused, saying that he was satisfied to have two prizes from the academy (for Mirèio and for Nerte [1884, Nerto)) as well as the support of some worthy friends. Mauron gives another reason for Mistral’s refusal: Mistral, in a remark critical of the academy, told a journalist that French letters isolated the artist, holding him too far above humble people (”la poésie française isole l’artiste.. elle le tient trop haut, trop au-dessus des humbles“), but Provençal poetry, by contrast, being based on popular speech, obliged the poet to remain in close contact with the common people.

Lou Trésor dóu Félibrige (The Félibrige Treasury), Mistral’s monumental Occitan-French dictionary that covered language and cultural terms of all areas of the Midi, appeared in 1878 and 1886. It is in two volumes of 1,200 pages each and includes about 100,000 words. He gives the etymologies of the words and examples of their use. In the course of his twenty years of work on it, Mistral made himself one of the foremost philologists of his time. He engaged in constant correspondence and took infinite pains to get firsthand information about rare and technical words from the workmen in person. Sometimes he sent his wife and father-in-law in search of people who could verify certain vocabulary words.

In 1884 Mistral’s third epic poem, Nerte, was published, with facing French translation by Mistral.Nerte received the Prix Vitet of the Académie Française.Nerte is set in Avignon when the popes lived there, between 1394 and 1424. The characters are from the highest strata of society. On his deathbed, a father tells his thirteen-year- old daughter, Nerte, that after gambling, when he had lost everything, he sold her soul to the devil. The story involves Nerte’s efforts to escape this curse. The Pope advises her to become a nun, which she does. A nephew of the Pope, Rodrigue, falls in love with Nerte. Rodrigue has perused the occult books of the Pope’s extensive library and is now a criminal in league with the devil. Auguste Saint-Jean points out that Rodrigue’s studies of the occult have a good aspect, because they have also given him a degree of self-knowledge, which will eventually permit him to deal with the dark forces of his own nature. When Nerte takes vows, Rodrigue and his band raid the convent to capture her, causing mayhem. Nerte escapes. Later Rodrigue, Nerte, and the devil meet in a palace built by the devil for Rodrigue. At last, Rodrigue renounces his pursuit of Nerte. When he holds his sword with the hilt up, to resemble a cross, the devil and the palace disappear in a bolt of lightning. Rodrigue and Nerte ascend to heaven.

In 1890 La Rèino Jano (Queen Joan), a tragedy in five acts, was published in Provençal verse, translated into French by Mistral, under the French title, La Reine Jeanne. Queen Joan, a popular historical figure in the Midi, was born in the early 1300s. She became queen of Naples in 1343 and was also countess of Provence. When her estranged husband was murdered in 1345, she traveled to Provence to proclaim her innocence to Pope Innocent VI. She was received in Marseilles as the ruler of Provence and won her case. Mistral’s play ends there, but in the historical account, she was later killed at the instigation of her adopted son. Mistral himself considered his play impossible to stage, except for the last two scenes, which might lend themselves to opera. Sometime before 1896, the play received a dramatic reading and the staging of the fifth act. Robert Lafont writes that in 1896 a serious effort to stage the play, with Paul Mounet and Duparc in the lead roles, failed. Rostaing notes that in 1905 Mistral announced that he was leaving to others the care or the risk of staging this play (“Je laisse à l’avenir le soin ou le risque de faire représenter cette pièce”). However, Rostaing writes that La Rèino Ian° was well received when it was played later, in its entirety, at Nice. (He does not give the date.) He explains that after the advent of movies, the eye of the public had become accustomed to a new type of scenery; therefore Mistral’s “grande fresque historique” (great historical fresco) could finally be played on a stage to an appreciative audience.

In 1891 the Aioli was founded, a literary journal that was published three times a month until 1899. It was named for a regional sauce, garlic mayonnaise. Contributors were not necessarily Félibres or from Provence. The popular Armana Prouvençau had been designed to appeal to those with a practical bent, who would not have been interested in reading Mistral’s epic poems. Its prose style was close to everyday language. By 1891, however, Mistral wanted to appeal to a wider audience as well, with a publication that would have literary appeal and help establish Provençal as a literary language both inside and outside of the Midi. As Rostaing points out, poetry does not suffice to create this image and prove this point. Many periodicals in the Provençal language had become scurrilous in tone, contributing to the general prejudice that the language was incapable of anything better.

With the Prix de Jean Reynaud from the Academy of Inscriptions for Lou Trésor dóu Félibrige, Mistral’s dream of creating a new venue was made financially possible. Folco, Marquis of Baroncelli-Javon, was the managing editor of the Aioli, with Marius André editing the political articles. Since the history and culture of the Midi were not taught at school, many articles of the Aioli covered this material. Rob Lyle identifies a polemical aspect of the magazine, reflecting a political rift that had developed within the Félibrige. There was a group of younger Félibres who, like Mistral, supported the idea of a federal form of government (as opposed to a republic). Lyle says that the Aioli, run by this group and promoting their ideas, trained them to be successful journalists “in the wider press,” in Paris as well as the provinces.

As it turned out, because the men producing the Aioli were young, they had family and professional responsibilities that competed with their journalistic efforts. In addition, Folco de Baroncelli gradually became more absorbed in his project of breeding the cattle and the white horses native to the Camargue, where he had an estate. Mistral, according to Rostaing, had to write a great many articles for the Aioli, even from the start, and in its last years of publication he was writing nearly all the articles. Rostaing praises Mistral for his prose style “véritablement artistique” (truly artistic), a prose “rythmée,” that is, with a beautiful cadence. He also believes that the Aioli had a major role in the development of modern journalistic prose in Provence, a prose that can be used in debating ideas. The Aioli was revived between 1930 and 1932. Folco de Baroncelli was the editor in chief.

In 1897 Mistral’s twelve-canto Lou Pouèmo dóu Rose (translated as Anglore: The Song of the Rhone, 1937), in Provençal with the author’s French translation, was published under the French title, Le Poème du Rhône. This work received the A. Née Prize of the Académie Française. Tudor Edwards considers it Mistral’s best narrative poem and by far the easiest to read. In Lou Pouèmo dóu Rose Mistral replaces rhyme with rhythm, creating a new form that reinforces the feeling of the movement of the water. Mallarmé, the symbolist poet, was ecstatic about this poem, writing to Mistral in 1897, “mon culte pour ta dernière oeuvre: toi seul, t’emparant d’un des trois ou quatre thèmes absolus, un fleuve qui coule selon un livre vivant chantant et débordant, si humain, grave et jeune, éternel, pouvais y égaler ton inspiration” (my worship of this latest work of yours: you alone, seizing on one of the three or four fundamental themes, a river that runs through the length of a book, living, singing, and overflowing, so human, grave and young, eternal, could rise to the challenge [of this theme] with your inspiration).

Rollet describes Mistral’s habit of composing his poems in three stages. First he would research the setting, then superimpose a story line on these details, and finally add touches that create symbolic meaning. In Lou Pouèmo dóu Rose, the three layers are successfully meshed, and a willful blurring of the story line creates mystery surrounding the identity of the main characters, the Anglore and the Drac. In Lou Pouèmo doacute;u Rose the young prince of Orange, bored by court life, finds a suite of barges on the Rhône River in Lyon, ingratiates himself with the crew, and enjoys the ride downstream: “Napo d’arcie, li lònguis aigo morn / Menon la som e l’embriagadisso” (The steel-colored flow of far-spreading mournful waters, / Brings on sleep, almost inebriation).

The captain explains to the prince that forty horses on the shore will haul the train of barges back upstream from the fair at Beaucaire to Lyon. The prince is blond, with green eyes and a red-striped cloak that looks nothing like anyone else’s clothes. A solitary young woman nicknamed l’Anglore, or the Lizard, who spends her days searching for flecks of gold to sell, believes that she once saw the Drac, a sort of merman or large river dragon. When she meets the prince, she instantly recognizes him as the Drac, and they become engaged. Mistral leaves the prince’s identity equivocal. The prince explains that after they marry at the ancient altar of Mithra, of whom he is perhaps the last surviving worshiper, they will be swallowed up by the waves. The Anglore is confused but unafraid. On the return trip, a steamboat collides with the train of barges. Although the sailors reach the shore safely, the barges and all the horses are lost, and the young lovers are not seen again.

In 1899 the Museon Arlaten (Museum of Arles) was opened. Created by Mistral, it celebrated Provençal daily life. In 1906 this museum of ethnography was moved to the Hôtel de Laval Castellane, one of the earliest Renaissance palaces in the Midi. Mistral used his portion of the Nobel Prize money to restore this building.

Mistral had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1901, the first year that the award was given in literature. His candidacy was supported by both French and German scholars, headed by Edward Koschwitz, a German philosopher, suggesting Mistral’s high stature in Europe. The first literary Nobel Prize, however, went to French poet and philosopher Sully Prudhomme. In 1904 Mistral and the Spanish poet and playwright José Echegaray shared equally the fourth Nobel Prize in Literature. Echegaray graciously wrote Mistral from Madrid on 17 December 1904 that the honor of his own prize was not diminished but doubled by his sharing it with Mistral.

Mistral was selected while Wirsén, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, was chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee. The committee of the Wirsén period, even though there was disagreement within its ranks, was old-fashioned in its own time, rejecting both naturalism and symbolism. Wirsén wanted the Swedish Academy (of which the Nobel committee is a part) to be a “bastion.. of literary conservatism and moderation.” Revisionist critics have been especially harsh about the first prizes given, including Mistral’s, but the earliest committees faced daunting problems.

Fritz Henriksson records that Alfred Nobel wrote his will without the help of lawyers; it therefore took several years after his death to agree on his intentions. Even so, the various prize committees had to work out as best they could their rationale for choosing the prizewinners, while trying to be faithful to Nobel’s wishes. Kjell Espmark, chairman of the Nobel Committee in 1988, explains that the earliest periods of the literature prize dealt chiefly with debate over what Nobel meant when he said the award should go to the author of “the most distinguished work of an idealistic tendency.” The phrase has meant different things to different panels of judges. The Wirsén committee emphasized the “idealism” of the works and interpreted the term as literally as they could.

Wirsén was a disciple of the Swedish philosopher C. J. Boström, whose idealism derived from Immanuel Kant. Boström considered “the whole physical universe... an optical illusion,” as Espmark explains. The only true reality was spiritual in nature. Boström conceived of a God who was above temporal reality but who intervened in it. In Boström’s system, people had free will and were responsible for their actions. Therefore, with the use of his reason (as opposed to sensual motives), a person could strive for ever-higher “degrees of consciousness in the spiritual hierarchy.” Boström believed that government, as one of the visible manifestations of a higher reality, partakes of the divine; a monarch, then, was “superior to all private considerations and all parties.” Espmark portrays this position as “a defense against radical and reformist tendencies.”

An ideology of this sort could exclude candidates on nonaesthetic grounds. Espmark even holds that in the Wirsén era, the Nobel Prize was not primarily a literary prize. An author’s life, and the influence of his works, had to be in harmony with Boström’s conserva tive ideas and contribute to humanity’s struggle “toward the ideal.” An atheist, for example, or a person with politically subversive tendencies could well be disqualified. Mistral was always reticent to discuss his personal political and religious beliefs, and both have givenrise to scholarly debate. Mistral was not a practicing Catholic, and as Claude Mauron suggests, Mistral’s attachment to the local saints and religious legends might appear unorthodox. Goyard states that Mistral always defended the Catholic Church and its ministers when they were threatened. The Nobel Prize Committee was not critical of Mistral here. As to politics, Wirsén correctly judged that Mistral was not a separatist. He praised Mistral because he had “devoted his life to an ideal, the restoration and development of the spiritual interests of his native country, its language and its literature.” (By “native country” he is referring to Mistral’s region of France.)

Finally, the Wirsén committee considered literary quality. Their guide was Friedrich Theodor Vischer, whose Aesthetik (1846-1857) elaborated the aesthetic portion of Boström’s system. Espmark describes Vischer’s concept: “the idea appears in totally visibleguise-the art of Greek antiquity and of Goethe.” The author must describe nature and human life realistically, then place it in the bigger picture of a higher, spiritual reality.

The symbolists, with their “abstraction and symbolizing,” were thus disfavored, because they departed from a realistic picture of nature. The naturalists were not liked, because their realism seemed to be brutal, sordid, and a merely “photographic” portrayal of life, lacking a spiritual interpretation. Polemic authors were also disfavored, because they failed to provide a spiritual interpretation. Wirsén’s committee looked for “calm moderation” rather than engagement, and in style they favored “harmonious and balanced composition.” A work also had to be clear, so as to have broad appeal.

Mistral’s writings fit the committee’s criteria in several ways. His abundant description and his precise technical vocabulary fulfilled their desire for realism in the description of nature. Rollet describes Mistral’s peri patetic working habits: when the area to be described by the poem was new to him, as in Calendau and Lou Pouèmo dóu Rose, he pursued topographical, historical, and linguistic details by walking and traveling all over these areas. For Rollet, this practice shows that the natural world was the basis of Mistral’s inspiration. The committee in 1901 liked that, praising Mistral’s “Homeric graphicness” (as revealed by Espmark’s study of the archives). There are many “set pieces” or “descrip tive frescoes” in Mistral’s work, such as his famous portrait in Mirèio of the horses of the Camargue, which was singled out for praise by Wirsén. The committee found Mistral to have a “sunny imagination” that was “outward-turned.” That is, they found that Mistral looked to nature and the world around him, rather than inward, for his inspiration. They praised the “dew-fresh and sparkling genuineness of his inspiration,” probably responding to the metaphors that had transfixed Lamartine some forty years earlier.

Mistral’s realism fell short in the eyes of the committee in 1901, however, when it came to understanding people. True, they praised his “unaffected closeness to the people,” referring to his choice of characters of humble status such as Vincén the basket-weaver; but Mistral, in their eyes, did not “penetrate to the well springs of the deepest stirrings of the soul.” Speaking of Mirèio, Wirsén said tactfully in his presentation speech in 1904, “The source from which Mistral has drawn is not psychology; it is nature. Man himself is treated purely as a child of nature. Let other poets sound the depths of the human soul.” Thus, Mistral’s perceived deficiency in portraying human life realistically was off set by his skill in depicting nature, and by the beauty of the metaphors. As to the demand for a spiritual context in the work, this element also seems to have been con sidered lacking but offset by the salutary influence of Mistral’s life and works.

Later critics have opened new paths to assessing Mistral’s psychological acuteness. Garavini explains that Mistral created something new in poetry when he joined (usually successfully) a contemporary Provence with its legendary past; the past, usually a dynamic element in the poem, takes on a mythical or even mystical presence. Wirsén wanted to see psychological mechanisms underlying the individual character’s dilemmas and choices, an expectation that caused Wirsén to fail to see the cultural depth, or social identity, that makes the character what he is, for Mistral.

Mistral’s way of using words was modern, also. Garavini finds that Mistral participated fully in the avant-garde poetic movements of his day. For example, Mistral often uses a precise term set against a fluid and imprecise background, as in Mirèio, Canto X: “Lescygnes, les macreuses lustrées,-les flamants aux ailes de feu-venaient, de la clarté mourante. “(The swans, the lustrous scoter ducks, / the flamingos with their wings of fire l were coming, from the dying brightness..); and in Calendau, Canto II: “Des sapins, troupes échevelées, I qui, â l’assaut des noirâtres versants, grimpent au nord” (Pine trees, rumpled throng, which, attacking darkening cliffs, climb northward). The primary and subordinate elements-adjectives and nouns- are reversed. Mistral has been appreciated by conservatives such as Wirsén and the Nobel Committee and, paradoxi cally, by those who savor romantic or symbolist elements.

In 1906 Mistral’s autobiography Moun espelido was published. Covering his life from 1830 to 1859, it is full of amusing anecdotes. Edwards describes it as a Euro pean classic and possibly Mistral’s best-loved work.

The year 1909 was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Mirèio. The Sainte-Estelle was celebrated in Arles, attended by more than seventy thousand people. The three-day event was Mistral’s apotheosis. As Edwards explains, “the series of fetes and ceremonies was on a scale that few men of genius, certainly few poets, have received in their lifetime.” There were fire works and rodeo-like demonstrations. A bronze statue of Mistral by Théodore Rivière was unveiled. The Museon Arlaten was officially opened in its new location. On the same day, 30 May 1909, Mistral was promoted to Commander of the French Legion of Honor. There was a “Mireille” dance, where the women wore the costume from their region of the Midi. Gounod’s opera Mireille was performed in the Roman arena of Arles. Roche records that there were similar celebrations of this anniversary in Rome, Athens, Bucharest, New York, and Chicago.

The last five years of Mistral’s life were fruitful. In 1910 his translation of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, was published. The poetry collection Lis Oulivado (The Olive Harvest) appeared in 1912, with the author’s French translation, under the French title, Les Olivades. The poet, recognizing that this book would be his last volume of poems, named it after the last harvest of the year. Jacques De Caluwé, in a 1969 article, points out the astonishing number of poetic forms that Mistral used in both his collections. Lyle notes that Lis Oulivado includes many occasional poems, usually not the poet’s best, but he appreciates certain poems such as the sonnet Mistral wrote for his own tomb.

In 1913 there were many honors for Mistral, such as his reception during the Sainte-Estelle; a group of students unhitched the horses of his open carriage and pulled it themselves across town. Later the same year, Mistral welcomed to Maillane the president of France, Raymond Poincaré. On 19 March 1914 Mistral went to see the installation of a church bell in Maillane, on which were inscribed some lines of his poetry. It was a cold day, and he became ill. He died soon afterward, on 25 March. A large funeral cortege took place on 27 March. Mistral willed his house, which he had built after his marriage and in which he had lived the rest of his life, to the city of Maillane “avec sa bibliothèque, ses meubles et ses souvenirs” (with its library, furniture and memorabilia). It is now the Museon Mistral (Mistral Museum).

The poet had spent all his life in the Provence that he loved passionately, dedicating himself to the cultural survival of the entire Midi. As Berthe Gavalda says, Provence was his “perfect diamond,” his “unequalled pearl.” He had won recognition, including the Nobel Prize, as well as the gratitude of the people of the Midi.

Over time, the Félibrige did not remain the sole apologist for the dialects of the Midi. The Occitan movement proposed a standardized spelling that is still used in addition to Mistral’s. Zdravko Batzarov reports that the Occitan movement promoted the Langdocien dialect as the norm instead of Provençal. In 1945 they broke with the Félibrige, creating the Institute of Occitan Studies. In 1954 Robert Lafont’s book Mistral oul’illusion (Mistral or the Illusion), which claimed that Mistral had been an obstacle to the Occitan renais sance, intensified the rupture. In 1960, however, the two groups began to cooperate.

Mistral’s efforts have not had all the results he envisioned, and the assessments of the state of the language are mixed. France did not move in the direction of federalism, and Occitan is not recognized as an offi cial language in France. Batzarov sees a conundrum: those who speak Occitan do not read and write it, and see no use for it; and it remains to be seen whether those who are learning to read and write Occitan will persist in speaking it. Jean Fourié finds that Occitan is in a precarious position, but with great possibilities. He believes that its future depends on continuing efforts in education and on using the media to promote it. Music such as reggae uses Occitan frequently and is one of the most important mediums for preserving it. The Félibres appealed to the central authorities repeatedly to repeal the banishment of Occitan from the schools. Since the Deixonne law of 1953, Occitan has been offered as an elective subject at all levels. Nonofficial bilingual schools also teach Occitan. The Félibrige laid an enduring groundwork for success in future movements of regional identity.

From a literary point of view, Frédéric Mistral and the Félibrige have had enduring results. Roche says that since the publication of Mirèio, regional literatures have been considered as part of the national patrimony. If one believes, with Mistral, that a language will survive as long as it is being written, the results are encouraging. A large and continuing scholarly output, much of it written in Occitan, as well as literary creations in Occitan, suggest that Mistral and the Félibrige succeeded.


Mistral et Valentine Rostand: Correspondance inédite, edited by Pierre Rollet (Aix-En-Provence; Paris, 1972);

Correspondance de Frédéric Mistral avec Paul Meyer et Gaston Paris, edited by Jean Boutière (Paris: Didier, 1978);

Histoire d’Une Amitié: Correspondance Inédite Entre Alphonse Daudet et Frédéric Mistral, 1860-1897, edited by Jacques-Henry Bornecque (Paris: Julliard, 1979);

Correspondance, Frédéric Mistral—Pierre Dévoluy (1895-1913), edited by Charles Rostaing (Nîmes: Imprimerie Bene, 1984).


Edmond Lefèvre, Bibliographie Mistralienne (Marseilles: Edition de l’Idèio Prouvençalo, 1903);

Georges G. Place, Frédéric Mistral (Paris: Chronique des Lettres françaises,1970).


Charles Alfred Downer, Frédéric Mistral, Poet and Leader in Provence (New York: Columbia University Press, 1901);

Marius André, La vie harmonieuse de Mistral (Paris: Plon, 1928);

Alfred Dagan, Frédéric Mistral: Sa vie et son oeuvre, 1830-1914 (Avignon: Aubanel Père, 1930);

Tudor Edwards, The Lion of Arles: A Portrait of Mistral and His Circle (New York: Fordham University Press, 1964);

Joachim Durand, La Vie et l’oeuvre de Frédéric Mistral (Nîmes: J. Durand, 1974);

Charles Rostaing, Frédéric Mistral: L’Homme révélé par ses oeuvres (Marseilles: J. Laffitte, 1987);

Claude Mauron, Frédéric Mistral (Paris: Fayard, 1993);

Jean-Yves Casanova, Frédéric Mistral: L’Enfant, la mort et les rêves (Canet: Trabucaire, 2004).


Richard Aldington, Introduction to Mistral (London: Heinemann, 1956; Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1960);

Zdravko Batzarov, “Occitan Language: General Overview, “Orbis Latinus <http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Occitan/Occitan.html>;

Gérard Baudin, Moussu Frederi, ou, Clichés d’un poète (Marseilles: Paul Tacussel, 1987);

Philippe Blanchet, “Le Parler de Frédéric Mistral: Etude des traces dialectales dans ses premiers ecrits,” Lou Prouvençau a l’Escolo, 112 (1987): 6–9;

Pilar Blanco Garcia, “La Presence de l’eau dans l’œuvre de F. Mistral, Mirèio,” La France latine, 106 (1988): 135–151;

Mireille Bosqui, Mistral, Lieux et figures du Sud (Marguerittes: Equinoxe, 1994);

Simon Calamel and Dominique Javel, La langue d’oc pour étendard: Les Félibres (1854-2002), Hommes et Communautés (Toulouse: Editions Privat, 2002);

Jacques De Caluwé, “Frédéric Mistral et les troubadours: L’Apport des lettres de Maillane,” Marche Romane, 23-24 (1973-1974): 277–289;

De Caluwé, Le Moyen age litteraire occitan dans loeuvre de Frédéric Mistral: Utilisation ethique et esthétique (Paris: A. G. Nizet, 1974);

De Caluwé, “La Richesse des formes strophiques dans la poesie lyrique de Frédéric Mistral,” Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire/Belgische Tijdschrift voor Filologieen geschiedenis, 47 (1969): 873–884;

De Caluwé, “Troubadours et amour courtois dans Mirèio de Frédéric Mistral,” Annales du Midi: Revue de la France Meridionale, 81 (1969): 263–278;

Marc Décimo,“Quand Michel Bréal, d’origine juive et berlinoise, alsacien, félibre et citoyen, ecrivait à Mistral,”Revue des Langues Romanes, 104, no. 1 (2000): 187–218;

Pierre Dévoluy, Mistral et la rédemption d’une langue (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1941);

Kjell Espmark, The Nobel Prize in Literature: A Study of the Criteria behind the Choices (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991);

Jean Fourié, “Mistral, l’Aiòli et l’enseignement de lalangue d’oc,” Lou Prouvençau a l’Escolo, 2 (1986): 3–4;

Fausta Garavini, L’Empèri d’ou soulèu: La Ragione dialettale nella Francia d’Oc (Milan: Riccardo Ricciardi Edi tore, 1967);

Garavini, “Le Pari Mistralien,” Romantisme: Revue du Dix-Neuvieme Siecle, 11, no. 33 (1981): 59–73;

Philippe Gardy, “La Proso d’Armana: Contes et récits d’une langue et d’une société à jamais perdues,” Revue des Langues Romanes, 96, no. 2 (1992): 351–374;

Gardy and Claire Torreilles, eds., Frédéric Mistral et Lou PouèTo dóu Rose: Le Poème du Rhône (Bordes: Actesdu Colloque de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, Centre d’étude de la littérature occitane [CELO], 1997);

Claude Goyard, “Armendares Pacreu “Lettres de Maurras et Amouretti à Mistral,’ ’ La France Latine, 118 (1994): 326–338;

Goyard, “Jules-Charles Roux et son projet d’edition des correspondances de Mistral,” La France Latine, 110 (1990): 64–83;

Mitu Grosu, Mistral: Poète de l’amour (Jerusalem: HaMakor, 1995);

Fritz Henriksson, The Nobel Prizes and their Founder, Alfred Nobel (Stockholm: Alb. Bonniers Boktryckeri, 1938);

Marie Thérèse Jouveau, Alphonse Daudet, Frédéric Mistral: La Provence et le Félibrige, 2 volumes (Nîmes: Bené, 1980);

Jouveau, Alphonse Daudet, maître des tendresses (Aix-en-Provence: Roubaud, 1990);

René Jouveau, “Mistral, Poueto de la mar,” LAstrado, 24 (1989): 119–126;

Hans-Erich Keller, “Félibre et le Félibrige,” Neophilologus, 48 (1964): 1–28;

Robert Lafont, Mistral ou l’illusion (Paris: Plon, 1954);

Rob Lyle, Mistral, Studies in Modern European Literature and Thought (Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1953; New York: Yale University Press, 1953);

Charles Mauron, Etudes mistraliennes: Estudi Mistralen et autres recherches psychocritiques (Saint-Rémy-de Provence, France: Centre de Recherches & d’Etudes Méridionales, 1989);

Claude Mauron, “Fenèstro e Lou pouèmo dóu rose: Questioun de formo,” Lou Prouvençau a l’Escolo, 1 (1996): 22–27;

Mauron, “Frédéric Mistral et Jean-Baptiste Coye: Une rencontre sur la barque des enfers?” Prouveço 2000, 6 (1988): 36–48;

Jean Mellot, “A propos du chapitre VIII des Mémoires et récits de Frédéric Mistral: “Comment je passai bachelier,” in Mélanges de philologie romane dédiés à la mémoire de Jean Routière, edited by Iréne Cluzel and François Pirot (Liège: Soledi,1971), pp. 831–839;

Sully-André Peyre, Essai sur Frédéric Mistral (Paris: Seghers, 1959);

François Pirot, “Coup d’oeil sur la jeune littérature occi tane,” Marche romaine, 23-24 (1973-1974): 291 300;

Alphonse Roche, “Le Centenaire de Mireille,” French Review, 33, no. 5 (1960): 441–447;

Charles Rostaing, Commentaires de l’oeuvre de Frédéric Mistral “Calendau” (Marseilles: Prouvènço d’aro, 1996);

Jules-Charles Roux, Lejubilé de Frédéric Mistral: Cinquantenaire de Mireille, Arles, 29-30-31 mai 1909 (Paris: B1oud, 1913);

Auguste Saint Jean, Le Monument mystique: L’Ésotérisme dans l oeuvre de Frédéric Mistral (Marseilles: Parlarèn, 1985);

Jean Soulairol, Humanité de Mistral (Paris: J. Renard, 1941); republished as Introduction à Mistral (Paris: Beauchesne, 1964);

Gérard Teulière, “Lei Fielairas: De la chanson au mythe,” TENSO: Bulletin of the Société Guilhem IX, 5, no. 2 (1990): 119-132.


There are two collections of Frédéric Mistral’s papers. The major collection is at the Palace du Roure, Bid io- thèque (the Library of the Roure Palace), in Avignon. It was the private residence of Folco de Baroncelli and also contained the offices of the Aioli. Mistral’s papers are also in the Museon Mistral in Maillane.

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Mistral, Frédéric (8 September 1830 - 25 March 1914)

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