From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris (August 9, 1839 – March 5, 1903), known as Gaston Paris, was a French writer and scholar. The term "courtly love" ("l'amour courtois") was coined by Gaston Paris in 1883 (in the journal Romania). The terms that appear in the actual medieval period are "Amour Honestus" (Honest Love) and "Fin Amor" (Refined Love).
Paris was born at Avenay (Marne). In his childhood, he learned to appreciate Old French romances as poems and stories, and this early impulse for the study of Romance literature was placed on a solid basis by courses of study at Bonn (1856) and at the École des chartes.
At first he taught French grammar in a private school, later succeeding his father as professor of medieval French literature at the Collège de France in 1872; in 1876 he was admitted to the Academy of Inscriptions and in 1896 to the Académie française; in 1895 he was appointed director of the Collège de France. He won a European reputation as a Romance scholar. He had learnt German methods of exact research, but besides being an accurate philologist he was a literary critic of great acumen and breadth of view, and brought a singularly clear mind to bear on his favourite study of medieval French literature. His Vie de Saint-Alexis (1872) broke new ground and provided a model for future editors of medieval texts. It included the original text and the variations of it dating from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. He contributed largely to the Histoire littéraire de la France, and with Paul Meyer published Romania, a journal devoted to the study of Romance literature.
In 1877 Gaston Paris was inviteded to Sweden for the 400 anniversary of the Upsala University, and created an honnorary doctor. Before returning home he also visited Kristiania (Oslo) to take part in a celebration of the Norwegian philosopher Marcus Jacob Monrad. At the University of Kristiania Gaston Paris also held a lecture, taking about the two folktale collectors, Asbjørnsen and Moe, which he, besides the Grimm Brothers, believed to be the best re-tellers of the genre.
He died in Cannes in 1903.
Among Paris' other numerous works are:
- Les Plus anciens monuments de la langue française (1875)
- Manuel d'ancien Français (1888)
- Mystère de la passion d'Arnoul Greban (1878), in collaboration with Gaston Raynaud
- Deux rédactions du roman des sept sages de Rome (1876)
- a translation of the Grammaire des langues romanes (1874-1878) of Friedrich Diez, in collaboration with MM. Brachet and Morel-Fatio.
His works of a more popular nature include:
- La Poésie du Moyen Âge (1885 and 1895)
- Penseurs et poètes (1897)
- Poèmes et légendes du moyen âge (1900)
- François Villon (1901), an admirable monograph contributed to the "Grands Écrivains Français" series
- Legendes du Moyen Âge (1903).
His excellent summary of medieval French literature forms a volume of the Temple Primers.
Paris endeared himself to a wide circle of scholars outside his own country by his unfailing urbanity and generosity. In France he trained a band of disciples at the École des Chartes and the College de France who continued the traditions of exact research that he established. Among them were Leopold Pannier; Marius Sepet, the author of Le Drame chrétien au Moyen Âge (1878) and Origines catholiques du théâtre moderne (1901); Charles Joret; Alfred Morel-Fatio; Gaston Raynaud, who was responsible for various volumes of the excellent editions published by the Sociétés anciens textes français; Arsène Darmesteter; and others.
- "Hommage à Gaston Paris" (1903), the opening lecture of his successor, Joseph Bédier, in the chair of medieval literature at the College de France;
- A. Thomas, Essais de philologie française (1897);
- W. P. Ker, in the Fortnightly Review (July 1904);
- M. Croiset, Notice sur Gaston Paris (1904);
- J. Bédier et M. Roques, Bibliographie des travaux de Gaston Paris (1904).