Joseph Joubert, French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which were published posthumously
Joseph Joubert (7 May 1754 in Montignac, Périgord – 4 May 1824 in Paris) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which were published posthumously.
- From the age of fourteen Joubert attended a religious college in Toulouse, where he later taught until 1776. In 1778 he went to Pariswhere he met D’Alembert and Diderot, amongst others, and later became a friend of a young writer and diplomat, Chateaubriand.
- He alternated between living in Paris with his friends and life in the privacy of the countryside in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He was appointed inspector-general of universities under Napoleon.
- Joubert published nothing during his lifetime, but he wrote a copious number of letters and filled sheets of paper and small notebooks with thoughts about the nature of human existence, literature, and other topics, in a poignant, often aphoristic style. After his death his widow entrusted Chateaubriand with these notes, and in 1838, he published a selection titled, Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert). More complete editions were to follow, as were collections of Joubert’s correspondence.
- Somewhat of the Epicurean school of philosophy, Joubert even valued his own frequent suffering of ill health, as he believed sickness gave subtlety to the soul.
- Joubert’s works have been translated into numerous languages. An English translation version was made by Paul Auster. Matthew Arnold in his Critical Essays devotes a section to Joubert.
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