The editorial work and literary enterprise of Louis Aime-Martin
Darrie, Stephanie Mary
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis offers a new perspective on the cultural contribution of Louis Aimé-Martin, best known as the principal editor of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. The thesis begins in chapter 1 with a critical analysis of the posthumous edition of Bernardin’s Essai sur J.-J. Rousseau. This text, singled out by the scholar, Maurice Souriau, as an exemplar of Aimé-Martin’s editorial negligence, introduces a theme sustained throughout chapter 2. This study of part of the Correspondance de J.-H. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, in revealing Aimé-Martin’s emotive handling of the manuscripts he works from, leads to a necessary consideration of other, more objective editorial ventures in chapter 3. Attention turns from Bernardin’s legacy to an investigation of Aimé-Martin as a reputed authority on the lives and works of a host of French personalities from across the centuries. In light of those undertakings independent of Bernardin, the following chapters go on to broaden our understanding of Aimé-Martin, revealing some of his own literary endeavours. Reflections on the Lettres à Sophie sur la physique, la chimie et l’histoire naturelle (1810) in chapter 4, and Raymond (1811) in chapter 5, testify to Aimé-Martin’s interest in contemporary issues from feminine pedagogy to the moralisation of the peasant class. Such concerns eventually culminate in the philosophy of the Education des mères (1834), considered in chapter 6. It is this œuvre, with its promotion of a new, more accessible spirituality and its proposed revisions of the educative system, which truly sees Aimé-Martin engage with the socio-political agenda of his day. Chapter 7 looks further, then, at Aimé-Martin’s immersion in the cultural community of his time, drawing in particular on the revelations of his correspondence with Alphonse de Lamartine. The renowned editor is thus shown to be a transitional figure, holding a torch for the memory of an eighteenth-century icon while also shining a light of hope and inspiration for the people of the early decades of the nineteenth.
PhD in French