Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas nēkôlä´ bwälō´-dāprāō´ [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
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).
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