Courmes, Dominique Albert (1843-1914)

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Courmes, Dominique Albert (1843-1914)

French naval officer and pioneer French Theosophist. Courmes was born on August 4, 1843, at Rouen. He joined the navy when he was 17 years old and after an outstanding career became its commandant. He was awarded the Legion of Honor at the time of his retirement in 1896.

In his middle years, Courmes studied Spiritualism, Spiritism, and Theosophy successively. He is credited with saving the records of Spiritist leader Allan Kardec when they were threatened during the days of the Paris Commune (1871). He also wrote the first article on Theosophy published in France, in 1877-78 in the Revue Spirite. In 1880 he joined the Theosophical Society and that same year translated the Buddhist Catechism, prepared by theosophical president Henry Steel Olcott, into French. He finally met Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, cofounder of the society, in 1884 and promised to translate her key work, The Secret Doctrine, into French. Sections of the translation began to appear serially in a French theosophical magazine in 1889 and were finally issued in a six-volume edition (1899-1910).

Courmes's retirement from the navy was prompted by the Theosophists' need of an editor for Le Lotus Bleu, their French-language journal. He made a number of notable contributions, including further translations of Blavatsky's writings and original essays of his own. He also translated the Hindu classic the Bhagavad Gita (1910). Courmes was the titular head of the theosophical movement in Paris until the organization of the French section of the Theosophical Society in 1900, when he proposed a colleague as the first general secretary.


Courmes, D. A. A Theosophical Question Book. Translated from the French by Elin Salzer and Harry Banbery. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophist Office, 1898.