Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914) was a Provencal poet and writer who led the revival of Provencal literature in France. Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1904.
Mistral was born 8 Sept 1830 in Maillane, between Avignon and St Remy-de-Provence. Frédéric was the only son of wealthy landowner whose family had been in Provence since the 16th century. One of his early schoolmasters, the Provençal poet Joseph Roumanille, encouraged Mistral's interest and passion for the Provençal language.
After receiving his degree in law in 1851, Mistral devoted his life to Provençal literature. His first poems were published in 1852.
In 1854, the Félibres association was founded by Mistral, Théodore Aubanel, Roumanille, Jean Brunet, Paul Piera, Anselme Mathieu and Alphonse Tavan. The purpose of the association, and its annual journal, Armana Prouvençau was to revive the Provençal language and customs. Mistral also began his 20-year effort to create Lou Tresor dou Félibrige (The Treasury of Félibres), a dictionary of the Provençal language, dialects, beliefs and traditions.
In 1904, Mistral shared the Nobel Prize for Literature with José Echegaray, for his study of the language and his literary contributions.
Also in 1904, Mistral established a Provencal museum in Arles.
Mistral's work, in addition to presenting the purity of the Provençal language, extolled the beauty and qualities of Provence. His works include:
- Miréio (1859), an epic tale of two lovers, was translated to English in 1867, and was adapted as Charles Gounod's opera, Mireille.
- Calendau (1867), a narrative poem about a Provençal fisherman.
- Lis Isclo d'or (1875) [Islands of Gold], a collection of poems.
- Lou Tresor dou Félibrige (1878, 2 vol.). Provençal dictionary.
- Nerto (1884), a narrative poem about the last days of the popes in Avignon.
- La Rèino Jano (1890) [Queen Jane], Mistral's only drama.
- Lou pouémo dóu rose (1897), translated in 1937 as The Song of the Rhone.
- Moun espelido: Memori è raconte (1906), an autobiography.
- Discours et Dicho (1906).
- Lis Olivadou (1912).
- A five-volume edition of his works appeared between 1887 and 1910.
- Prose d'Armana (1926-30 posthumously), three volumes of unpublished works.
- Oeuvres Poétiques Complètes (1967), two volumes.
Frédéric Mistral died 25 Mar 1914, in Maillane, the village of his birth.