Sébastien-Roch Nicolas Chamfort Bibliography

La Jeune indienne 1764
At the outbreak of the Revolution, Chamfort joined the Jacobins - he became secretary of the Jacobin club and a member of the Club de 1789 - and wrote republican articles for the Mercure de Frence; he later attacked the excesses of Terror and the National Convention. In July 1793 he was arrested and imprisoned for two days. The threat of further imprisonment caused him to attempt suicide, and failing to fully recover from his self-inflicted wounds, died on 13 April, 1794.

Chamfort was the author of the 18th centuries most celebrated definition of love as “nothing but the contact of two epidermises.”

La Jeune indienne, a play that received Voltarie’s approval, premiered on 30 April at the Comédie Française. “Critics confirmed the qualities of this glittery trifle set in Charlestown, Virginia, as well as the talent of its author, kindly described as a ‘lad’”. (Arnaud, Chamfort, p.14)

Grimm sent a favourable review to Catherine II and the play was performed throughout Germany (Goethe thought of dealing with the play’s subject himself), in Holland, Spain, Russia and was translated into Danish.
Epître d’un père à son fils 1764
In August 1764 Chamfort’s Epistle won the Académie française poetry prize, based on a subject inspired by Rousseau’s Emile: A Father Writes to His Son on the Birth of a Grandson. Both Duclos and D’Alembert, two of Chamfort’s patrons, sat on the jury. Grimm praised “the young, poor, yet proud poet” whom the Jesuit press itself acclaimed, whilst a Jansenist unsuccessfully demanded the “the puny sprout from the encyclopedic colossus” be censored. (Claude Arnaud, Chamfort: A Biography)
Éloge de Molière 1769
Le Marchand de Smyrne 1770
Mustapha et Zéangir 1776
A tragic drama performed before Louis XVI in 1776. A resounding failure, Chamfort decided never to publish again.
Discours sur les académies 1791
Chamfort was elected to the Academy in 1781.
Maximes, pensées, caractères et anecdotes 1795
Published posthumously. Chamfort decided in 1784 that he would never publish his Maximes et anecdotes, and stuck by this decision practically until his death in 1794. “He gave the ironic title of Products of the Perfected Civilization to this tome of human error - mistakenly retitled Maximes, pensées, caractères et anecdotes by the French publishers. A book without end, a repeated knock on the wall of prejudices, a pointless indictment - like all previous writing against the eternal and ever-changing civilization of phoniness.” (Arnaud, Chamfort: a biography, p.118.)

(Philosophy has) “a lot of drugs, very few good remedies, and almost no specfic cures.”

“The most wasted day of all is that in which we have not laughed.”

“The public! How many fools does it take to make a public?”

“I would say of metaphysicians what Scaliger said of the Basques: they are said to understand each other, but I do not believe it.”