France

Claude Debussy – More than just the Link between Romanticism and Modernity

Claude Debussy – More than just the Link between Romanticism and Modernity

On August 22, 1862, French composer Claude Debussy was born. Debussy’s music is regarded as a link between romanticism and modernity. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For me, his Claire de Lune is one of the most beautiful pieces for piano I have ever played. “The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.” — Claude…
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Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts

Denis Diderot’s Encyclopedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts

On July 31, 1784, French philosopher, art critic, and writer Denis Diderot passed away. Diderot is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor, and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d’Alembert.[1] He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment. “From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.” — Denis Diderot, Essai sur le Mérite de la Vertu (1745) Denis Diderot was born on October 5, 1713, the second…
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A Writer should not Allow Himself to be Turned into an Institution – Jean-Paul Sartre

A Writer should not Allow Himself to be Turned into an Institution – Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre was born on June 21, 1905 in Paris and has become one of the most influential French  philosophers, playwrights, novelists, screenwriters, political activists, biographers, and literary critics of his age. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism, and one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy as well as Marxism. He also significantly  influenced other scientific disciplines such as sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and…
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More than just hot air – the Montgolfier-Balloons

More than just hot air – the Montgolfier-Balloons

The two brothers and business partners, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier changed history on June 4, 1783, when they presented their hot air balloon for the first time to the public of Annonay, France. Joseph, Ètienne, and their 14 siblings were the children of paper manufacturer Pierre Montgolfier. After the death of the oldest brother Raymond in 1772, it was Ètienne’s turn to run the family business, which he did more than successfully…
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Étienne-Jules Marey and the Chronophotographic Gun

Étienne-Jules Marey and the Chronophotographic Gun

On May 15, 1904, French scientist, physiologist and chronophotographer Étienne-Jules Marey passed away. Marey’s work was significant in the development of cardiology, physical instrumentation, aviation, cinematography and the science of laboratory photography. He is widely considered to be a pioneer of photography and an influential pioneer of the history of cinema. Étienne-Jules Marey was born on March 5, 1830 in Beaune, Côte-d’Or, France. He studied medicine in Paris, France starting from 1849. He…
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The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

On May 12, 1907, French writer and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans passed away. Hysmans is most famous for the novel “À rebours”, by which he broke from Naturalism and became the ultimate example of “decadent” literature. Huysmans’ work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. Joris-Karl Huysmans was born as Charles Marie Georges Huysmans on February 5, 1848, in Paris,…
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The Famous Prophecies of Nostradamus

The Famous Prophecies of Nostradamus

On May 4, 1555, The first edition of Michel de Nostredame‘s ‘Les Propheties‘, a famous collection of long-term predictions that have since become famous worldwide, was published. “Perfect knowledge of such things cannot be acquired without divine inspiration, given that all prophetic inspiration derives its initial origin from God Almighty, then from chance and nature.” — Michel de Nostredame, Les Propheties (1555) Born on December 14 or 21, 1503 in Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the…
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Jacques Cartier and the Discovery of Canada

Jacques Cartier and the Discovery of Canada

On April 20, 1534, French explorer of Breton origin Jacques Cartier set sail under a commission from the king, hoping to discover a western passage to the wealthy markets of Asia to discover Canada and Labrador. Actually, Jacques Cartier was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named “The Country of Canadas”, after the Iroquois names for…
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Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the Celestial Mechanics

On April 10, 1813, Italian mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange passed away. Lagrange made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics. Lagrange was born on January 25, 1736 as Giuseppe Ludovico Lagrangia in Turin, previously capital of the duchy of Savoy, but became the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia in 1720. His father was Giuseppe Francesco Lodovico Lagrangia, Treasurer of the Office of…
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Nadar and How Photography became an Art

Nadar and How Photography became an Art

On April 5, 1820, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon better known under his pseudonym Nadar, was born. He is considered to be one of the first grand masters of photography, besides being a caricaturist, a journalist, a novelist, and also a renown balloonist. Felix Nadar started studying medicine, but abandoned this subject to become a journalist and worked at first in Paris and Lyon. Back then, he was already known as an amazing caricaturist, wherefore…
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