LANGLÈS, Louis-Mathieu

LANGLÈS, Louis-Mathieu. Perenne (Welles-Pérennes) near St.Didier (Mont­didier/Oise) 23.8.1763 — Paris 28.5.(28.1.?)1824. French Oriental (especially Persian) Scholar. Son of a farmer, according to his own claim, of local gentry. Joined the army, but was sickly and quitted after the disappointment of being not sent to India and went to Paris. Now studied at Collège de France Arabic (under Caussin de Perceval the father), Persian (Ruffin) and English. Friend of Silvestre de Sacy. In 1785 Lieutenant in Guards of French Maréchal, with the duty of impending duels. Employed by Bertin for editing Amiot’s Manchu dictionary and obtained, without notable merits, a pension for scholarly work from Maréchal Richelieu. He was fascinated with revolution and served in Paris national guard. He was one of the founders of the É.L.O.V. (proposed in 1793, actually founded in 1795), where he became Director (administrateur) and Professor of Persian (until his death). From 1792 he was also Assistant at Manuscript Department of Bibliothèque nationale, from 1795 until his death its first Conservator of Oriental manuscripts. From 1802 Member of Institut, also member of several academies and societies abroad. Napoleon did not appreciate him, but with restauration he succeeded again (Legion d’honneur 1819), but the revival of Oriental studies also roused criticism, to which Langlès as a mediocrity was rather open. This was started by Klaproth in 1815 and carried on by Abel-Rémusat. He died after an illness and his rich library was sold in an auction. He never traveled outside France.

Langlès was a productive but mediocre scholar, who tried to cover the entire Asia, but always turned up more or less a dilettante. The only language, where he really seems to have had good command was Persian, but even here he often relied on translations of others. After his death his fame collapsed. He was productive translator and a maniac in notes. His many, rather mediocre publications were important in making Asia known, for instance he was among the first to communicate the work done in Bengal Asiatic Society to the French. To his friends and students he was friendly and helpful. The Monuments de l’Indoustan could have been important, but it remained unfinished and was little noted and soon antiquated. In Indology he is further remembered because of the first catalogue of the Sanskrit manuscripts of Paris, but the actual description here was prepared by Al. Hamilton.

Publications: Translated from English: Instituts politiques et militaires de Tamerlan, écrits par lui-même en mogol, et traduits en français, sur la version persane d’Abou-Taleb al Hoceiny, avec la vie du conquerant, d’après les meilleurs auteurs orientaux, des notes 122+401 p. P. 1787 (from Davy’s English, 1783).

Alphabet tartare-mandchou. 24 p. P. 1787, 3rd ed. augmentée d’une notice sur l’origine, l’histoire et les travaux littéraires des Mandchoux. 14+208 p. P. 1807.

Edited: P. Amiot: Dictionnaire Tartare-Mandchou–Française. 1-3. P. 1789-90.

– “Précis historique sur les Mahrattes, trad. du Persan”, 50 p. in Soulès, Affaires de l’Inde. 1788 (perhaps only from English); “Ambassades réciproques d’un roi des Indes et de la Perse et d’un empereur de la Chine, trad. du Persan”, 58 p. in Hastings, Mémoires relatifs à l’état de l’Inde, trad. par Lamontagne. 3rd ed. 1788 (annotated extracts from a translation actually made by Galland!).

Contes, fables et sentences, tirés de différents auteurs arabes et persans, suivis d’une notice sur Ferdoussy. 45+179 p. P. 1788.

Translated from English: Fables et contes Indiens nouvellement traduits avec un Discours préliminaire et des notes sur la religion, la littérature, les mœurs etc. des Hindoux. 107+185 p. P. 1790.

Transl.: Description du Pégu et de l’ile de Ceylan … par Hunter, Wolf et Eschelskroon. 32+354 p. P. 1793; Voyage de l’Inde à la Mecque par Abdoul-Kerym. an V (1797); Voyage de la Perse dans l’Inde par Abdoul-Rizak et du Bengale en Perse par W. Franklin. 1-2. P. an VI (1798); Voyage du Bengale à Saint-Pétersbourg par G. Forster. 1-3. an X (1802); Voyage en Chine et en Tartarie par Holmes,  à la suite de l’ambassade de lord Macartney. 1-2. an XIII (1805); Voyage pittoresque de l’Inde par M. William Hodges. 1-2. P. an XIII (1805); Voyage chez les Mahrattes par feu de M. Tone. 24+350 p. P. 1820.

Translated from English: Recherches asiatiques où Mémoires de la Société établie au Bengale. 1-2. P. an XIV (1805).

With A. Hamilton: Catalogue des manuscrits Samskrits de la Bibliothèque Impérial, avec des notices 118 p. P. 1807.

– Edited with notes: Voyages de monsieur le chevalier Chardin en Perse et autres lieux de l’Orient. 1-10. P. 1811.

Monuments anciens et modernes de l’Indoustan. 1-3. P. 1812-21 (fol., with 144 pl.).

Castes de l’Inde ou Lettres sur les Hindoux. 141 p. P. 1822.

Analyse des mémoires contenus dans le XIVe volume des Asiatik Researches. 7+114 p. P. 1825.

Numerous further translations from European languages, especially of travel accounts, accompanied by copious notes, a number of small studies.

Sources: A_t, B.U. 70, 1842, 189-200; *A[bel]-R[émusat], JA 4, 1824, 150-157; Buckland, Dictionary.; *Dacier, MAIBL 9, 1831, 100-116; Fr. Hitzel, D.O.L.F. 558f.; L. de Rosny, N.B.G. 29, 1859, 422-424; *Roux, Nouv. Ann. Voy. 22, 1824, 113-122; Wikipedia with drawing.

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