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date: 02 August 2021

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Paul Valery (1871–1945) was a French writer whose interests were so broad that he was known as a polymath (someone whose interests span many different areas). He produced plays, essays, novels, and other works of nonfiction, including symbolist poetry (symbolism being a late 19th-century art movement). He was born and raised in the south of France, where he received a Roman Catholic education before moving to Paris, where he lived for most of his life. By 1919, when he wrote A Crisis of the Mind, Valery was a literary giant in France. In it he suggested that Europe was in decline. Looking back at the great civilizations of antiquity, he memorialized them and went on to point out that Europe, though once great, was not immune to the forces which undermined Babylon, or Nineveh, or the Ancient Persian Empire, among other ancient civilizations.

From Paul Valéry, A Crisis of the Mind. 1919.

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