Theodore E. D. Braun (1933–2022)

(Photo drawn from the announcement of Ted Braun’s membership of the Académie de Montauban on the University of Delaware’s website)

Friends and colleagues of the late Theodore E. D. Braun were saddened to learn of his death last December at the age of 89. Ted, as he was affectionately known, was professor emeritus of French at the University of Delaware, where he was honoured for distinguished service by the College of Arts and Sciences. A lifelong Francophile, Ted was granted the rank of ‘chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques’ by the French Government.

His career was active and wide-ranging. He was a founding member of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Ibero-American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Society for Eighteenth-Century French Studies. In due course, he held office in each, as well as in the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. He was also a contributing editor to the Voltaire Foundation’s Œuvres complètes de Voltaire and the leading authority on the works of Jean-Jacques Le Franc de Pompignan, a fact recognised when he was named a corresponding member of the Académie de Montauban. Ted positively beamed when he spoke of the arcane ceremonial and the celebratory dinner in the medieval town that followed. On that happy occasion, the city of Montauban awarded him the rare distinction of honorary citizenship. Many bumpers were raised in appreciation of Ted’s dedication to the Académie’s founder, ironically, one of Voltaire’s most bitter enemies. In recent years, Ted was an active member of the board of the Voltaire Society of America. In 2021, thanks to his exertions, The Quotable Voltaire, sponsored by the VSA, and co-edited by Garry Apgar and me, was published by the Bucknell University Press.

I first got to know Ted when my then student, Gillian Pink, wrote to ask his advice on research she was undertaking on Le Franc de Pompignan. With characteristic generosity, Ted responded to Gillian’s queries, and the two struck up an epistolary friendship. When later I attended ASECS, I was told to look out for a gentleman dressed entirely in bright orange. Sure enough, the genial ‘Duke of Orange’, as he was dubbed, emerged from the drab cohort of academics, smiling, and twinkling, and offering me his hand. We soon became friends, frequently meeting over breakfast to discuss our various projects, including his surprising interest in ‘chaos theory’. Throughout the years, I was impressed by how young Ted seemed, and how energetic. One of his most endearing traits was the genuine interest he took in the work of younger scholars. He always had suggestions about which publishers to approach, which journal to consider, as well as expert comments on their work. Ted had a kind heart. He was a giving man.

Theodore E. D. Braun is survived by his wife Anne, his daughter Jeanne, his son-in-law John Velonis, and three grandchildren. May he rest in peace. Requiescat in pace.

– Edouard M. Langille, St. FX University (Canada)

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