Dictionnaire des auteurs d’ouvrages d’homéopathie en langue française
21 December 2017 (online)
Oliver Rabanes, Alain Sarembaud Éditions Boiron, Lyon, France ISBN 2857422008, 2003
This is a most unusual book, a dictionary of biography and of bibliography combined. Here one can locate details of every book ever written in French, or translated into French, on homeopathy, listed in a brief biography of each author. This is one of the few books I have encountered recently which requires no index as it is, in itself, an index.
The result is much more readable and fascinating than one might expect. It opens up the lives of around 800 authors and of the institutions of French, and indeed world, homeopathy. Included are where they trained, who were their colleagues or the schools of thought and institutions to which they belonged, the offices they held, their influences on some of the great debates in homeopathy since the days of Samuel Hahnemann, and some tantalising personal details. Cross references are clearly and simply indicated with an asterisk. The authors are both homeopathic physicians, Rabanes being also a historian, and Sarembaud general secretary of the national federation of French regional homeopathic societies.
The most recent previous source of information is by Claude Rozet, Bibliographie de l’homéopathie, publications en langue française de 1824 a 1984, now not only 20 years old, but only a listing of published books. Another great bibliographical text is by Jacques Baur: Un livre sans frontières, histoire et metamorphoses de l’organon de Hahnemann (1991), the illustrated story of the Organon and all its editions and translations; however well written, it is surely only of interest to Hahnemann geeks (like me). The authors of this book have consulted biographies, bibliographies, histories, obituaries and journals from around the world, all their sources are listed. The books is well produced.
One can see who has been translated into French, and so who might have influenced French homeopathy, from Kent to Vithoulkas. Demarque, in his erudite Homéopathie, médecine de l’experience (1968) suggests that it the ‘illuminisme’ of Kent, the esoteric nature of his work which turned homeopathy into a sect and kept it small in the 20th century. We learn that Demarque in turn was influenced by Cervantes, Aristotle and Aquinas. French authors who wrote in English like Paul François Curie, (grandfather of Pierre Curie, who opened the first dispensary for the poor in London), are not listed. Curie was brought from Paris by a wealthy patron but did not write in French.
Consider the life of one author whose work is well known in translation, Othon-André Julian (1910–1984); (for example Materia medica of new remedies, Beaconsfield, 1979). Born in Stuttgart, studied in Strasbourg, was psychoanalysed by Freud in Vienna, also aligning with the philosophy of Spinoza and the politics of Marx. He volunteered in the Second World War but was demobilised and joined the resistance in 1940; arrested in 1942 he ended the war in a camp for displaced Jews in Switzerland. Already trained in medicine he then studied homeopathy at which he excelled as a teacher, as a writer, as a prover, and in other research. He ended his days spectacularly, famously cremated in a red coffin to the tune of the communist anthem the Internationale. All his homeopathic achievements and publications are of course listed.
I have a couple of unusual books in my collection of about 460 titles in French, La géographie homéopathique (1966) and Le piano homéopathique (1999) by Robert Dufilho about whom I new nothing. The former relates anatomy to materia medica, and the latter concerns subtle emotional symptoms of materia medica. I discovered inter alia that he came to London to study with Margaret Tyler, and Buenos Aires to work with Paschero, which gives some clues about his intellectual influences.
Some years ago I was asked by John Churchill of Beaconsfield Publishers, for suggestions of a book which would be worth translating from French. I did not hesitate. It had to be La typologie et ses applications therapeutiques les temperaments, prototypes et métatypes by Léon Vannier first published in 1928, still in print, translated by Dr Marianne Harling which appeared as Vannier's Typology in 1992. From Rabanes and Sarembaud I learned that Vannier was taught by Swiss homeopath Antoine Nebel from whom he learned the concepts of terrain, diathesis, drainage, isotherapy and more. Vannier's influential writings, ideas and influence are explained in ways I had not hitherto realised.
There are many more of my favourite authors about whom I have learned so much in this volume; Benoît Mure (1809–1858) who brought homeopathy to Malta, the Sudan and gave us provings from Brazil in his short life; Jean-Pierre Gallavardin (1825–1898) whose classical and effective approach included those typical French issues of alcoholism (1889 & 1960) and Des passions génitales (1896), Lea de Mattos (1908–1989) who wrote about Gynecologie (1979) including Folliculinum; I could go on and on. I have been tempted to buy a recent book (http://www.amazon.fr) by someone new; Mourad Benabdallah (born 1957) of Lille has written ‘un roman policier’, a detective novel with a homeopathic physician as hero called Neige bleue (2000).
This book is a major contribution to the epistemology and historiography of homeopathy. It is time to learn French and become European.