Allan Kardec

Short Biography of Allan Kardec

Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail was born in Lyon, France, on 3 October 1804. He Studied in Yverdun (Switzerland) with the selebrated Johann Heirich Pestalozzi, of whom he became an eminent disciple and collaborator. He dedicated himself to the promotion of the educational system that exerted such great influence on the educational reform in France and Germany. A renowned linguist, he spoke German, English, Italian, Spanish, and Duch. He translated into German excerpts from French classical authors, especially those written by Fénelon (Françõis de Salignat de la Mothe).


He founded in Paris, along with his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet, an establishment similar to that of Yverdun. He wrote books on grammar, mathematics, and university level pedagogical studies; he also translated works in English and German. He organized, in his house, free courses of chemistry, physics, astronomy, and comparative anatomy.

A member of various scientific societies, notably the Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts of Arras, he received a competition award in 1831 with the monography “Which System of Study Is More in Harmony with the Necessities of the Times?” Among his works, the following stand out: “Theoretical and Parctical Arithmetic Course, following the Pestalozzi Method” (1824); “Presentation of a Plan for the Betterment of Public Education” (1831).


It was in 1854 that Prof. Rivail heard about the “turning tables”, a mediumistic phenomena that was agitating Europe. In Paris, he did his first studies on Spiritism. He applied to the new science the experimental method: that is, he never formulated pre-conceived theories; he observed intently; he compared, and deduced the consequences; and he always looked for reason and logic in the facts. He questioned the Spirits, made notes, and organized the data he had. That is why he is called the Codifier of Spiritism. The authors of the Doctrine are the Superior Spirits. At the beginning, Rivail’s objective was just his own education. Only latter on, when he realized the materials he had formed a body of knowledge and had the scope of a Doctrine, fif he decide to publish a book for the education of all. And thus he launched The Spirits’ Book on the 18 of April 1857. He adopted the pseudonym Allan Kardec, his name in a previous life, in order to differentiate the Spiritist works from the pedagogical works he had previously published.


In January 1858, he launched the Revue Spirite, and in April of the same year he founded the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies. Soon after, he published What is Spiritism (1859), The Mediums’ Book (1861), The Gospel According to Spiritism (1864), Heaven and Hell (1865), and The Genesis (1868). Kardec disincarnated in Paris on 31st of March 1869, at the age of 64, due to an aneurysm rupture. His body is buried in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, in the French capital. His friends gathered together his unpublished writings and notes in the book Posthumous Works, launched in 1890. (Not yet translated into English)

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