Louis Hachette (1800-1864) Catholic Liberal Marked by Jansenism

54 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2022

Date Written: February 1, 2022


In Louis Hachette (1800-1864). Le fondateur d’un empire, Paris : Fayard, 1999, the publishing historian Jean-Yves Mollier describes the publisher/editor’s pioneering commercial and industrial strategies that fostered his spectacular business success. For Mollier, Hachette’s Jansenistically tinged Catholicism appears neither to have hindered nor shaped his emergence as an archetypal entrepreneurial capitalist. This essay, in contrast, argues that the Catholic Hachette was a person marked by Jansenistic modes of thought and feeling which gave a distinctive character to his publishing enterprise and to his liberalism. From his early schooling and upbringing in Paris in the Jansenist Saint-Severin parish, the intellectually gifted Hachette acquired a self-identification as a Catholic destined for a teaching vocation, which in course was transmuted into a publisher specializing in schoolbooks. At the same time, he acquired a patron in the Jansenist Ambroise Rendu, a career bureaucrat in the Public Instruction ministry, with whom he collaborated in the creation and publication of the hundreds of thousands of school primers needed in the implementation of the 1833 Guizot Law on public primary education. Hachette’s journal the Revue de l’instruction publique, founded as a monthly in 1842, adopted positions consistent with Jansenistic tradition: fervent laicism in defense of the French University as the 'State teaching'; strenuous opposition to the Catholic campaign for 'liberty of teaching'; support for the Michelet/Quinet lectures (1843) against the Jesuits. The publisher of Sainte-Beuve’s master-piece Port-Royal, Hachette also undertook a cultural program of continuous publication of Jansenist classics – Arnauld, Nicole, Pascal and others.

Keywords: Jansenism, publishing history, laicism

Suggested Citation

bertocci, philip, Louis Hachette (1800-1864) Catholic Liberal Marked by Jansenism (February 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4024345 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4024345

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