Courmes, Dominique Albert (1843–1914)
French naval officer and pioneer French Theosophist.
Courmes was born on August 4, 1843, at Rouen. He joined the
navy when he was 17 years old and after an outstanding career
became its commandant. He was awarded the Legion of Honor
at the time of his retirement in 1896.
In his middle years, Courmes studied Spiritualism, Spiritism,
and Theosophy successively. He is credited with saving
the records of Spiritist leader Allan Kardec when they were
threatened during the days of the Paris Commune (1871). He
also wrote the first article on Theosophy published in France,
in 1877–78 in the Revue Spirite. In 1880 he joined the Theosophical
Society and that same year translated the Buddhist
Catechism, prepared by theosophical president Henry Steel Olcott,
into French. He finally met Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,
cofounder of the society, in 1884 and promised to translate her
key work, The Secret Doctrine, into French. Sections of the translation
began to appear serially in a French theosophical magazine
in 1889 and were finally issued in a six-volume edition
(1899–1910).
Courmes’s retirement from the navy was prompted by the
Theosophists’ need of an editor for Le Lotus Bleu, their Frenchlanguage
journal. He made a number of notable contributions,
including further translations of Blavatsky’s writings and original
essays of his own. He also translated the Hindu classic the
Bhagavad Gita (1910). Courmes was the titular head of the theosophical
movement in Paris until the organization of the
French section of the Theosophical Society in 1900, when he
proposed a colleague as the first general secretary.
Sources
Courmes, D. A. A Theosophical Question Book. Translated
from the French by Elin Salzer and Harry Banbery. Adyar, Madras,
India Theosophist Office, 1898.

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