André Morellet

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André Morellet
Réfutation de l'ouvrage qui a pour titre Dialogues sur le commerce des bleds, 1770

André Morellet (7 March 1727 – 12 January 1819) was a French economist writer and contributor to the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers.[1] He was one of the last of the philosophes, and in this character he figures in many memoirs, such as those of Madame de Rémusat.


He was born at Lyon, and educated by the Jesuits there, and later at the Sorbonne. Voltaire called him "L'Abbé Mords-les" ("Father Bite-them"), because of his ready and biting wit. His most notable works were a smart pamphlet in answer to Charles Palissot's scurrilous play Les Philosophes (which procured him a short stay in the Bastille for an alleged libel on Palissot's patroness, the princesse de Robecq), and a reply to Ferdinando Galiani's Commerce des blés (1770).[2]

In 1765, Morellet produced a French translation of On Crimes and Punishments. His translation was widely criticized for the liberties he took with the text.[3] Morellet had the opinion that the Italian text of Beccaria did require some clarification. He therefore left some parts out, and sometimes added others. But he mainly changed the structure of the essay by moving, merging or splitting chapters. These interventions were known to experts, but because Beccaria himself had indicated in a letter to Morellet that he fully agreed with him, it was assumed that these adaptations also had Beccaria's consent in substance. The differences are so great, however, that the book from the hands of Morellet became quite another book than the book that Beccaria wrote.[4]

He was a contributor to the Encyclopédie and a friend of Benjamin Franklin.[5] Later, he made himself useful in quasi-diplomatic communications with English statesmen, and was pensioned and also elected a member of the Académie française in 1785. In 1786, he completed the translation of Thomas Jefferson's only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia (published in 1787 as Observations sur la Virginie). A year before his death in Paris, he brought out four volumes of Mélanges de littérature et de philosophie du XVIIIe siècle, composed chiefly of selections from his former publications, and after his death appeared his valuable Mémoires sur le XVIIIe siècle et la Révolution (2 vols., 1821).[2]


Main books[edit]

  • De l'expression en musique (1770)
  • Théorie du paradoxe (1775)
  • Éloges de Madame Geoffrin, contemporaine de Mme Du Deffand, par MM. Morellet, Thomas et d'Alembert, suivis de lettres de Mme Geoffrin et à Mme Geoffrin, et d'un Essai sur la conversation (1818)
  • Mélanges de littérature et de philosophie du XVIIIe (1818)
  • Mémoires de l'abbé Morellet, de l'Académie française, sur le dix-huitième siècle et sur la Révolution (1821). Réédition : Mercure de France, Paris, 1988. Texte en ligne (extraits annotés) :
  • Lettres inédites de l'abbé Morellet, sur l'histoire politique et littéraire des années 1806 et 1807, pour faire suite à ses Mémoires (1822)

Translations from English and Italian[edit]

  • Prière universelle by Alexander Pope (1760)
  • Manuel des inquisiteurs by Nicolaus Eymericus (1762). Réédition : Abrégé du manuel des inquisiteurs, Jérome Millon, 200.
  • Recherches sur le style by Cesare Beccaria (1771)
  • Legs d'un père à ses filles by John Gregory (1774)
  • Traité des délits et des peines de Cesare Beccaria (1765) V. Ph. Audegean, Genèse et signification des délits et des peines de Beccaria, Archives de philosophie du droit, Dalloz 2010, tome 53, p. 10.
  • Observations sur la Virginie de Thomas Jefferson (1786)
  • L'Italien, ou le Confessional des pénitens noirs by Ann Radcliffe (1797)
  • Voyage de découverte à l'Océan pacifique du Nord by George Vancouver (1798)
  • Histoire de l'Amérique, livres IX et X contenant l'histoire de la Virginie jusqu'à l'année 1688 et celle de la Nouvelle-Angleterre jusqu'en 1652 by William Robertson (1798)
  • Extrait du sermon prêché en Irlande, le jour de la commémoration de la mort de Charles Ier, en 1725-1726 by Jonathan Swift (1811)
  • Les Enfants de l'abbaye by Regina Maria Roche (1812)
  • Le Moine by Matthew Gregory Lewis (1838)
  • Le Tombeau by Ann Radcliffe (1850)


  1. ^ Frank Arthur Kafker: Notices sur les auteurs des 17 volumes de « discours » de l'Encyclopédie Recherches sur Diderot et sur l'Encyclopédie. Année (1990) Volume 8 Numéro 8, p. 106
  2. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Morellet, André". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 829.  Endnote: A bibliography of his numerous works is given in Quérard's La France littéraire, vol. vi.; see also Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi, vol. i.
  3. ^ Cesare Beccaria (1986). On Crimes And Punishments. Hackett. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-915145-97-3. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Walter Isaacson (4 May 2004). Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Simon and Schuster. p. 364. ISBN 978-0-7432-5807-4. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 

External links[edit]