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He was born at Strasbourg. He was the son of the banker Adolphe Ratisbonne and his wife Charlotte Oppenheim, and the nephew of the priests Marie Theodor Ratisbonne and Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne. He studied at the school of his native town and at the College Henry IVin Paris. He was connected with the Journal des Debats from 1853 to 1876; became librarian of the palace of Fontainebleau in 1871, and three years later to the Senate.
Louis Ratisbonne's most important work was a verse translation of the La Divina Commedia(The Divine Comedy), in which the original is rendered tercet by tercet into French. L'Enfer(1852) was crowned by the Academy; Le Purgatoire (1857) and Le Paradis 1859) received theprix Bordin.
He is also the author of some charming fables and verses for children: La Comédie enfantine(1860), Les Figures jeunes (1865) and others. He was literary executor of Alfred de Vigny, whose Destinées (1864) and Journal d'un poète (1867) he published. Ratisbonne died in Paris.