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Frédéric Mistral

Provençal Poet and saviour of the Langue d'Oc

Provençal poet and one of the prime movers in the rebirth of the Provençal dialect of the Occitan tongue which used to be the language of the whole of the south of France, Fréderic Mistral was born at Maillane in 1830 and trained as a lawyer at Avignon.

However, he became concerned at the way in which the French State was trying to eliminate the culture and language of the south. There had been an attempt during the 18th Century to revive the dialect but it was Mistral, together with his mentor Joseph Roumanile and five other young poets, who formed the Félibrige in 1854 which aimed to save the old language and codify its spelling.

Mistral’s epic poem Mirèio consisting of 12 cantos was his masterpiece and gained such prominence that Charles Gounod wrote an opera based on it in 1864.

Art & Culture

Text © Paul Shawcross

Image by © Paul Shawcross