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The basic works


Allan Kardec, pseudonym of Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail (Lyon, 3 October 1804 - Paris, 31 March 1869), was a French pedagogue and philosopher.

After his first studies in Bourg, in 1814 his parents sent him to study in the prestigious pedagogical institute of Jean Henry Pestalozzi in Yverdon, on Lake Neuchatel, in Switzerland. The institute followed the naturalistic principles of the great philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau: young people were educated there without the usual recourse to corporal punishment at that time. In 1818 Lèon graduated brilliantly: in addition to French, he knew English, German and Dutch and had an extraordinary ethical and cultural background.


He founded a school in Paris inspired by Pestalozzi's pedagogy. In 1831 he published the fundamental study "What is the study system most in harmony with the needs of the time?", Thanks to which he obtained the Prize of the Royal Academy of Arras. He devoted himself to pedagogy until 1848, when he began to study Spiritism. His full conversion, however, took place only between 1854 and 1855.

The first mediumistic experiences observed by Denizard occurred on an unspecified evening in May 1855 in Madame Plainemaison's Parisian home. Thus he decided to rationally study the laws governing spiritualist phenomena. On March 25, 1856, after months of indefatigable study, he had collected much of the material that will make up the Book of Spirits, thus becoming the coder of those phenomena. A little over a month later, on April 30, he learned of his mission from the medium Aline C.


He chose the pseudonym of Allan Kardec for the mysterious ties that bound him to previous lives, but above all for not mixing his work as a teacher with his work as a spiritualist coder.

With extraordinary passion he wrote the Book of Spirits, published in April 1857: it contained 501 questions, printed on a double column, one for the questions, the other for the answers of the Spirits. From 1857 to 1869 he devoted himself completely to the Science of the Spirit: in April 1858 he founded the Parisian Society for Spiritualist Studies and, shortly after, the Spiritist Magazine.

In time, he formed a powerful system of correspondence with different countries, traveling and giving conferences to stimulate the formation of new centers and to complete his mission as a coder.

He published four other books, which together with the Book of Spirits form the so-called Kardequian Pentateuch: Book of Medium (1861); The Gospel according to Spiritism (1864); Heaven and Hell (1865); Genesis (1868).

In the midst of activity, when he was not yet 65, Kardec disembodied on March 31, 1869, due to a cerebral aneurysm.




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