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Antoine de Rivarol
He was born at Bagnols in Languedoc. It seems that his father, an innkeeper, was a man of cultivated tastes. The son assumed the title of comte de Rivarol, and asserted his connection with a noble Italian family, but his enemies said his name was really Riverot, and that the family was not noble. After various vicissitudes he appeared in Paris in 1777. After winning some academic prizes, Rivarol distinguished himself in the year 1784 by a treatise Sur l'universalité de la langue française, and by a translation of Dante's Inferno. The year before the French Revolution broke out, with assistance from a man named Champcenetz, he compiled a lampoon, entitled Petit Almanach de nos grands hommes pour 1788, in which some writers of actual or future talent and a great many nobodies were ridiculed pitilessly.
When the Revolution developed the importance of the press, Rivarol took up arms on the Royalist side, and wrote in the Journal politique of Antoine Sabatier de Castres and the Actes des Apotres of Jean Gabriel Peltier . He left the country in 1792, and established himself at Brussels, moving sccessively to London, Hamburg and Berlin where he remained till his death.
Rivarol's only rival in France was Alexis Piron in sharp conversational sayings. These were mostly ill-natured; and mostly have a merely local application. Their brilliancy, however, can escape no one. His brother, Claude François (1762-1848), was also an author. His works include Isman, ou le fatalisme (1795), a novel; Le Véridique (1827), comedy; Essai sur les causes de la révolution française (1827).
The works of Antoine de Rivarol were published in five volumes (Paris, 1805); selections (Paris 1858) with introductory matter by Sainte-Beuve and others, and that edited in 1862 (2nd ed., 1880) by M. de Lescure, may be specified. See also M. de Lescure's Rivarol et la société française pendant la révolution et l'émigration (1882), and Le Breton's Rivarol, sa vie, ses idées (1895).
- This entry incorporates public domain text originally from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
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