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André Chénier

Chénier, André (äNdrāˈ shānyāˈ) [key], 1762–94, French poet, by some critics considered the greatest in 18th-century France. He was born in Constantinople, where his father was consul general, and was educated in France. From 1787 to 1790 he was attached to the French embassy in London. Active in the early phase of the French Revolution, he was later horrified by Jacobin excesses. In 1792 he contributed denunciatory pamphlets to the Journal de Paris, an organ of moderate royalism. He was arrested in Mar., 1794, by order of Robespierre, and was guillotined only three days before the end of the Terror. Chénier vivified the French classical tradition in his Élégies and Bucoliques. The Iambes are stirring political satires in verse. Most of his works were published after his death; La Jeune Captive, one of his most moving poems, appeared in 1795 and the first collected edition of his works in 1819. His life inspired the opera Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano.

See biography by R. A. Smernoff (1977).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Literature: Biographies


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