By: Isidore Singer
French educator and poet; born at Paris July 13, 1823; died there June 1, 1901. A grandson on his mother's side of the famous Paris ḥazzan Lovy, he remained throughout his brilliant career intimately attached to the faith of his ancestors. After having finished his studies at the Collège Charlemagne he entered the Ecole Normale (1843-46), where he had as comrades Emile Burnouf, Paul Janet, Gaston Boissier, Caro, Alfred Mézières, and Pasteur, all of whom have become renowned in the world of letters and science. Manuel became professor of rhetoric successively at the colleges of Dijon, Grenoble, Tours, and in the lyceums Charlemagne (1849) and Saint-Louis and the Collège Rollin in Paris. After the Franco-Prussian war Jules Simon, having become minister of public instruction, appointed Manuel his "chef du cabinet" and in 1872 "directeur du secrétariat."
Soon after, Manuel became inspector-general of secondary public instruction (1876). He now began to devote much of his energy and time to literature. In 1852 he had already published an edition of the "Morceaux Choisis des . . . Œuvres Lyriques"of Rousseau. His second work, written in collaboration with his brother-in-law Lévi-Alvarès (1854-58), was in four volumes, and was entitled "La France sous l'Aspect Géographique, Historique et Administratif." His earliest poems. "Pages Intimes," date from the year 1866, and it was they which laid the foundation for his literary fame. The ring of patriotism in his "Poèmes Populaires," which appeared in 1871, rendered them very popular. "Henri Regnault," "Les Pigeons de la République," "En Voyage," and "Pendant la Guerre" have placed Manuel in the rank of the foremost poets of his time. This last dramatic poem and "Les Ouvriers" were played at the Théâtre Français with Coquelin and Sarah Bernhardt in the leading rôles (Jan. 17, 1870). About this time "L'Absent" and "Pour les Blessés" were represented at the Théâtre Français. Manuel made several unsuccessful attempts to gain admission to the Académie Française.
Those of Manuel's poems which bear a special relation to Judaism are: "La Place du Pauvre," dedicated to his friend Isidore Cahen, the director of the "Archives Israélites"; "Le Verset"; "La Prière"; "Caïn et Abel"; and "Les Trois Peuples" (Jerusalem, Athens, Rome). His biography of his grandfather Israel Lovy, in the "Archives Israélites" (1850), deserves special mention. For twenty years Manuel was professor of Greek and Latin literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary at Paris, and he was one of the six founders of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, remaining a member of that institution until his death. After the death of Michel Alcan, Manuel was elected to represent the Jews of Lyons in the Central Consistory of the Jews of France (1877). He was a commander of the Legion of Honor. On Oct. 27, 1901, the Société Historique d'Auteuil et de Passy, of which he was one of the founders, placed a memorial tablet on the house in which the poet died.
- Archives Israélites, June, 1901;
- Univers Israélite, June, 1901;
- A la Mémoire de Eugène Manuel, 1901;
- A la Mémoire de Eugène Manuel, 1902;
- M. Bloch, in R. E. J. xlvi.