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Revel, Jean-François 1924-2006

REVEL, Jean-François 1924-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born January 19, 1924, in Marseille, France; died April 30, 2006, in Paris, France. Educator, journalist, and author. An admirer of American democracy, Revel was a prolific author who wrote on philosophy, politics, and culture. Although he was born in France, his parents took him to Mozambique as an infant and he learned to speak Portuguese before French. His original surname was Ricard, but he became known under his pen name and legally changed it to Revel. His education was in France, however, where he was studying when the Germans invaded in 1940. Joining the French Resistance, he returned to school after the war and attended the École Normale Superieure and the Sorbonne, earning a philosophy degree at the latter in 1956. Becoming a teacher, he found jobs with the French Institute in Mexico City and Florence. He then taught at the Lycee Faidherbe in Lille, France, during the late 1950s before being hired as literary editor of the France Observateur in 1960. From 1960 to 1963 he was also a philosophy instructor for the Lycee Jean-Baptiste-Say in Paris. He would later work at L'Express and was an executive for various French publishing houses. Better known as an author, however, Revel often expressed ideas that were counter to the philosophies of his day. For example, when the leftist teachings of Karl Marx were popular among intellectuals in France in the 1960s, Revel espoused the benefits of American-style capitalism, even though at the time he was also a speech writer for Socialist president François Mitterand. In a very un-Frenchlike manner, he also criticized French haute cuisine and, more recently, defended the United States' actions against Islamic terrorists. On the other hand, he was very French in trying to preserve the purity of the language and, as part of the Academie Française to which he was elected in 1997, was one of forty members known as the Immortals who defended standards in the language. Among his titles available in English translation are The Totalitarian Temptation (1977), Culture and Cuisine: A Journey through the History of Food (1982), The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information (1991), and Democracy against Itself: The Future of the Democratic Impulse (1993).



Revel, Jean François, Memoirs: le voleur dans la maison vide, Plon (Paris, France), 1997.


New York Times, May 2, 2006, p. B7.

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