ECKSTEIN, Ferdinand d’

ECKSTEIN, Ferdinand d’. Copenhagen 1.9.1790 — Paris 22. or 25.11.1862 (when 71). Baron. French Historian of Danish/German Origin. Details of his origin are unclear, the title of nobility probably doubtful. “Je ne desire pas me faire l’écho de rumeurs piquantes sur son origine et sa jeunesse” (Mohl). He is said to be the son of a German Jew converted to Lutheran Christianity, the mother was Meda-Cecilia Schultz. Grew up in Copenhagen and Altona. Studies of law at Heidelberg. In 1807-09 in Rome, where he joined Catholics, probably under the influence of Fr. Schlegel. Served in Lützow Jägers, then in Dutch army, against Napoleon. Thus came to France and worked as police inspector in Marseille. From the early 1820s lived in Paris working for the Foreign Ministry (until 1830). Active in politics. Unmarried.

He was an eager scholar, but without criticism and acuteness. He was interested in the origins of civilization. He started early with Sanskrit, studied on the Mahābhārata, and planned a major work on Indian civilization. Unfortunately he was no critical scholar, and his many contributions were deemed too speculative even by his contemporaries. Also a playwright. Nicknamed “Baron Sanskrit” and “Baron Bouddha”.

Publications: Founder (1826) and editor of Le Catholique, in which also published articles about Indian thought, but also on Germanic and Celtic; many further articles.

– “Analyse du quatrième chapitre de l’Aitareya Upanishad”, JA 2:11, 1833, 193-221, 289-317, 414-524 & 2:12, 1833, 53-78; “Analyse du Kathaka-Oupanichat”, Journal de l’Inst. historique 3:3, 183? (15 p.); “Narasinha Oupanichat. Analyse de cet ouvrage”, JA 3:2, 1836, 466-490, 559-585 & 3:4, 1834, 28-48; “Über die Grundlagen der Indischen Philosophie und deren Zusammenhang mit den Philosophemen der westlichen Völker”, Ind. St. 2, 1853.

Review of “Taoteching du Laotseu, ed. & trad. par St. Julien, Paris 1842”, JA 3:14, 1842, 283-318, 399-422; of Hiouen-tsang, trad. par St. Julien, JA 5:10, 1857, 475-552.

– “Recherches Historiques sur l’Humanité Primitive. Théogonies et Religions des Anciens Âges”, La revue indépendente 2:9, 1848, 1-52, 177-221.

– “De quelques légendes Brahmaniques qui se rapportent à berceau de l’espèce humaine. Légende des deux soeurs, la Kadroû et la Vinatâ”, JA 5:6, 1855, 191-221, 297-391, 473-524.

– “Sur les sources de la cosmogonie de Sanchuniathon”, JA 5:14, 1859, 167-238, 362-432, 501-533 & 5:15, 1859, 67-92, 210-263, 399-414.

– “Études sur la grammaire védique”, Revue archéologique 16, 1859, 86 p.

Geschichtliches über die Askesis der alten heidnischen und der alten jüdischen Welt als Einleitung einer Geschichte der Askesis des christlichen Mönchtums. 10+316 p. Freiburg i. Br. 1862.

Sources: *N. Burtin, Le baron d’Eckstein. Un semeur d’idées au temps de la revolution. Paris 1931 (diss., with a drawing); Mohl, JA 5:20, 1872, 14-16; Schwab 1950, 277-294; Windisch 332; Wikipédia; information given in a letter by Peter Wyzlic (1996).

L. Le Guillou (ed.), Lettres inédites du baron d’Eckstein. Société et littérature à Paris en 1838-1840. 256 p. P. 1998 (with short life sketch, 7-13), and *Le baron d’Eckstein et ses contemporains (Lammenais, Lacordaire, Montalembert, Foisset, Michelet, Renan, Hugo, etc.): correspondance avec choix de ses articles. 592 p. P. 2003.

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