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Jean Starobinski has passed away

Philosopher and professor of classical literature Jean Starobinski has passed away on the 4th of March. Born in 1920, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, he was one of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century.

After studying classical literature and medicine at the University of Geneva, and having graduated with a doctorate in letters and in medicine, he started teaching French literature at university, where he also taught history of ideas and history of medicine.

His most well-known works are his analyses of literature of the 18th century, more specifically Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot and Voltaire, as well as other French philosophers such as Montaigne. His vast culture and thorough knowledge of Greek culture also enabled him to draw many parallels with the works of Homer to create a consistent system of thoughts.

His knowledge of medicine and psychiatry led him to study the history of melancholia in philosophy and literature throughout the ages, from the Greek physical approach to depression to Romantic musings about the election of poets.

Jean Starobinski was a member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (Institut de France). He had received an impressive number of prizes, such as the Prix de la recherche littéraire, the Prix Pierre de Régnier and the Prix du rayonnement de la langue française by the Académie française, the Grand prix de littérature française en Belgique, the Prix européen de l’essai Charles Veillon and the Grand prix de la Francophonie. He had given over 40 000 books from his own archives to the Swiss Literary Achives.

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