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Pierre-Jean de Béranger

POI: 48.856667, 2.351944
Pierre-Jean de Béranger (19 August 1780 – 16 July 1857) was a prolific French poet and chansonnier (songwriter), who enjoyed great popularity and influence in France during his lifetime, but faded into obscurity in the decades following his death. He has been described as "the most popular French songwriter of all time" and "the first superstar of French popular music".
Biography
Early life and career, 1780-1803
De Béranger was born at his grandfather's house on the Rue Montorgueil in Paris, which he later described as "one of the dirtiest and most turbulent streets of Paris". He was not actually of noble blood, despite the use of an appended "de" in the family name by his father, who had vainly assumed the name of Béranger de Mersix. He was, in fact, descended from more humble stock, a country innkeeper on one side of the family and a tailor on the other - the latter was later celebrated in a song, "Le tailleur et la fée" (The tailor and the fairy). He made much of his humble origins in "Le Villain" (The Plebeian): As a child he was shy and sickly, but skilful with his hands and learnt to carve cherry stones. He was sent to school in the faubourg St. Antoine, and from its roof witnessed the storming of the Bastille in 1789, which was commemorated in his poem, "Le quatorze juillet" (The 14th of July). His father had been a business agent, but his royalist sympathies meant that he had to go into hiding after the French Revolution. Pierre-Jean was therefore sent to live with an aunt in Péronne, in Somme, who ran an auberge (boarding house). His aunt apparently taught him republican principles, and from her doorstep he heard the guns at Valenciennes (during the War of the First Coalition); he also developed a passionate love of France and distaste for all things foreign. He attended a school in Péronne, L'Institut Patriotique, founded by M. Ballue de Bellenglise, one time deputy of the legislative assembly, which was run according to the educational principles of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Here, the boys were organised into clubs and regiments, and taught to play at politics and war. Béranger was president of the club, made speeches before such members of the National Convention as passed through Péronne, and composed addresses to Jean Lambert Tallien and Robespierre. Neither Greek nor Latin was taught at his school — nor even French language by all accounts, for it was only after he left school that he acquired the elements of grammar from a printer, in Péronne, called Lainez, with whom he served an apprenticeship from the age of 14 years of age (after a spell as a waiter, for his aunt). It was there that he acquired a taste for verse. Although he could never read Horace in the original, he had an acquaintance with Fénelon's Télémaque, Racine and the dramas of Voltaire. After spending some time in Laisnez's printing-office, he was called to Paris, in 1796, to serve as an assistant in his father's business. In 1798, the firm went bankrupt,...   ... (English)
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