Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814) was a leading figure of the late French Enlightenment. In the first full-length critical biography of the author in English, Malcolm Cook seeks to understand the importance of Bernardin's principal works, notably the novel Paul et Virginie. Drawing heavily on unpublished manuscript material, Cook provides a fresh account of the writer's significance and status in a period of French history which, during Bernardin's lifetime, saw the transition from monarchy to republic and empire. The book is both a critical account of a major author and a source of new insights into the cultural revolution taking place around him.
Malcolm Cook is Professor of Eighteenth-Century French Studies at the University of Exeter, and is Chair of the Modern Humanities Research Association.
‘We tend to think of the author of Paul et Virginie as a one-hit wonder. This new biography shows that he was a man of many parts... Malcolm Cook draws on his unrivalled knowledge of Bernardin's manuscripts to give the life and works a personal and "cultural" frame.’ — Robin Howells, Modern Language Review 104.1, January 2009, 203-04 (full text online)
‘An intriguing book, full of surprises: a window into the mind of the researcher as well into the life of his subject.’ — Dena Goodman, French Studies 479
‘Maintaining an almost scientific objectivity, the biographer proceeds with caution in his assessments, reevaluating and correcting previous sources without speculating unnecessarily in the absence of evidence. From this process emerges the unembellished and contained sketch of a writer who lived a full and interesting life during challenging times. Specialists and general readers alike will certainly want to know more about Bernardin after reading this biography.’ — Christina Ionescu, French Review 82.1, 2009, 159-60
‘Commentateur des œuvres de Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, historien de la littérature de la période révolutionnaire, particulièrement intéressé par les questions de réception (comme en témoignent les colloques qu’il a organisés sur les réécritures et sur la critique), Cook donne une biographie qui est au confluent de ses thèmes d’étude de prédilection, et qui doit être lue parallèlement à ses travaux antérieurs.’ — Youmna Charara, Eighteenth-Century Fiction 22.3, 2010, 735-36
‘This is a wonderfully readable and insightful book, exceptionally richly illustrated with unpublished manuscript documents, and written with a true love for its subject.’ — Mark Darlow, Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies 33.2, June 2010, 284
Cook, Malcolm, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre: A Life of Culture (Cambridge: Legenda, 2006)
First footnote reference:35 Malcolm Cook, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre: A Life of Culture (Cambridge: Legenda, 2006), p. 21.