Léopold Lacour ( 1854- 1939) graduated brilliantly from the Ecole normale supérieure, the training ground of the French academic elite during the Third Republic. 1 He then spent several years teaching history in a succession of provincial posts and finally at the highly regarded Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris. Lacour later abandoned teaching to devote himself full time to a career of letters. He wrote plays and a variety of criticism, sociology, and history.
Lacour, an ardent socialist and feminist, chiefly developed his social analysis in Humanisme intégral, published in 1896. His feminism was not a mildly sympathetic feminism but a vigorous body of thought that won the praise of his contemporaries in the women's movement. Harlor, for example, wrote that "Léopold Lacour did not enter the tournament just to demand a modification of our laws and customs; but rather ... a total enrichment of the female individual, the right to life of the highest order and the duty to raise herself to that." 2 His writings have recently won praise for pioneering the historical consideration of feminism. 3
Humanisme intégral is a treatise of social morality and psychobiological philosophy whose main theme is to unite the two sexes in harmony, strength, and equality. It is a dense work of elaborate arguments that are difficult to excerpt. The following opening portions of the book give glimpses of what Harlor saw in his male feminism, of his commitment to the emancipation of women, and of his central belief that the future of successful male-female relationships was predicated on this emancipation.