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Catherine de Vivonne Rambouillet, marquise de

Rambouillet, Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de (kätrēnˈ də vēvônˈ märkēzˈ də räNbōyāˈ) [key], 1588–1665, famous Frenchwoman, whose salon exercised a profound influence on French literature. She retired from court life in 1608 and began to receive at her house the intellectuals of Paris. Her literary salon was the first of the kind, and her example was soon imitated throughout France and spread to the rest of the world. The height of her influence was between 1620 and 1645. Her circle included Mme de Sévigné, Mme de La Fayette, Mlle de Scudéry, the duchesse de Longueville, the duchesse de Montpensier, Jean Louis Guez de Balzac, Corneille, Richelieu, Malherbe, Racan, Voiture, Bossuet, Chapelain, Scarron, Vaugelas, and La Rochefoucauld. The conversation and literary criticism of the Hôtel de Rambouillet, as her house was called, aimed solely at refinement and good taste, although the marquise liked to indulge in practical jokes on her guests. The name précieux (fem. précieuse ) adopted by the members of her circle lacked at that time its derogatory connotation, but the preciosity made fashionable by her salon soon deteriorated into extravagance and was much ridiculed by Molière. The oldest daughter of the marquise de Rambouillet was Julie d'Angennes (later duchesse de Montausier), to whom the members of the circle addressed the cycle of verses Guirlande à Julie. A younger daughter, Angélique, was the first wife of the marquis de Grignan.

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

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