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Mapping LivesThe Uses of Biography$
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Peter France and William St Clair

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263181

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263181.001.0001

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From Eulogy to Biography: The French Academic Eloge

From Eulogy to Biography: The French Academic Eloge

(p.83) 5 From Eulogy to Biography: The French Academic Eloge
Mapping Lives

Peter France

British Academy

This chapter focuses on academic eulogy, a component of biography that urges to celebrate. It also examines how biography developed in the eulogies of the various French academies. Epideictic speeches, such as funeral oration or hagiography, are close relatives of written biography. In this type of biography, the biographer is tasked to provide moral lessons through a narrative that offers examples to be followed or avoided. Funeral orations are governed by praise or blame in the writing of lives; however, most of the eulogies are overshadowed by praises. In this form of biography, the focus is on celebration and the praise of a Carlylean hero. In addition to the celebration of life, eulogy has other important functions as well. One of these is to pay a debt of gratitude, whether on the part of humanity, nation, or some limited group. To praise the dead also means to empower the living; during this period, eulogies paved the way for laudatory biographies of various groups such as writers, artists, and scientists. They also helped form an edifice of corporate self-representation.

Keywords:   academic eulogy, celebrate, eulogies, French academies, epideictic speeches, funeral oration, hagiography, praise or blame, celebration of life, laudatory biographies

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