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Joseph de Maistre

Maistre, Joseph de (zhôzĕfˈ də mĕsˈtrə) [key], 1753–1821, French writer and diplomat. Born in Savoy, he was Sardinian ambassador at St. Petersburg from 1803 to 1817. A passionate Roman Catholic and royalist, he was master of a rigidly logical doctrine and the possessor of a great store of knowledge. These qualities, combined with a fine ability in writing French prose, made him perhaps the most powerful literary enemy of 18th-century rationalism, in which he delighted to detect logical weakness and shallowness. His principal works were Du pape [on the pope] (1819) and Les Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg [discussions in St. Petersburg] (1821). They develop his idea that the world should be one, ruled absolutely by the pope as the spiritual ruler, with no temporal ruler having an independent authority.

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

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