Thursday, October 5, 2017

Born Today October 5: Denis Diderot


Imminent French philosopher Diderot was born on this date in Langres, France.  It as in this same village that he began his formal education with local Jesuits.  By 1732 he had earned a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy, and entered the College d'Harcourt in Paris; and by 1734 he had decided to become a writer.  It is with his story writing that we are concerned with here.  In 1922, two German films companies made a film from one of his stories entitled Die Intrigen der Madame de la Pommeraye.  The film was directed by Fritz Wendhausen; it was his second film and starred German actor Alfred Abel, who would become one of Germany's most recognizable cinematic faces.  This would be the only film made from Diderot's work in the silent era.  It would be another 23 years before another film was made from his work.  Les dames du Bois de Boulogne was made by famed French filmmaker Robert Besson in 1945.  His work was first brought to television in 1967 in the Paradox über die Schauspielkunst episode of the West German series Auf der Lesebühne der Literarischen Illustrierten.  To my knowledge, there has never been an English language production of his work (yet).  The most recent film using his work as source material is the Italian production from 2013:  Il nipote di Rameau, a made for television film, which aired in December.  As for Diderot, himself, he died on the 31st of July in 1784 at the age of 70 in Paris, probably from the condition that would later be recognized as emphysema which caused bleeding in the lungs.  For more on his life and works (including the history of his controversial reception during his lifetime) please see the Wikipedia link below.  He is buried in the environs of the Church of Saint-Roch in Paris--the location is unknown today, as his body was displaced by destructive activity during the French Revolution.

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