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Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux

Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas (nēkôläˈ bwälōˈ-dāprāōˈ) [key], 1636–1711, French literary critic and poet. He was the spokesman of classicism, drawing his principles from his contemporaries, among them his friends Racine, Molière, and La Fontaine. His critical precepts are embodied in L'Art poétique (1674), a verse treatise; Le Lutrin (1683), a mock epic; 12 Satires (1st collected ed. 1716) and 12 Épîtres (1st collected ed. 1701), after Horace; and Les Héros de roman (1688), a dialogue in literary criticism. Revered in the 18th cent. as a literary lawgiver, he was later detested by the romantics. Boileau's poetic reputation rests on his satires, especially Le Lutrin, on the clerical world; Satires III and VI, on life in Paris; and Satire X, on women. He was a zealous polemicist, notably in quarrels with Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin and Perrault.

See edition of Les Héros de roman by T. F. Crane (1902); study by G. Pocock (1980).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French Literature: Biographies


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