Boileau, Nicolas

▪ French author
born Nov. 1, 1636, Paris
died March 13, 1711, Paris

      poet and leading literary critic in his day, known for his influence in upholding classical standards in both French and English literature.

      He was the son of a government official who had started life as a clerk. Boileau made good progress at the Collège d'Harcourt and was encouraged to take up literary work by his brother Gilles Boileau, who was already established as a man of letters.

      He began by writing satires (c. 1658), attacking well-known public figures, which he read privately to his friends. After a printer who had managed to obtain the texts published them in 1666, Boileau brought out an authenticated version (March 1666) that he toned down considerably from the original. The following year he wrote one of the most successful of mock-heroic epics, Le Lutrin, dealing with a quarrel of two ecclesiastical dignitaries over where to place a lectern in a chapel.

      In 1674 he published L'Art poétique, a didactic treatise in verse, setting out rules for the composition of poetry in the classical tradition. At the time, the work was considered of great importance, the definitive handbook of classical principles. It strongly influenced the English Augustan poets Dr. Johnson, John Dryden, and Alexander Pope. It is now valued more for the insight it provides into the literary controversies of the period.

      In 1677 Boileau was appointed historiographer royal and for 15 years avoided literary controversy; he was elected to the Académie Française in 1684. Boileau resumed his disputatious role in 1692, when the literary world found itself divided between the so-called ancients and moderns (see Ancients and Moderns). Seeing women as supporters of the moderns, Boileau wrote his antifeminist satire Contre les femmes (“Against Women,” published as Satire x, 1694), followed notably by Sur l'amour de Dieu (“On the Love of God,” published as Epitre xii, 1698).

      Boileau did not create the rules of classical drama and poetry, although it was long assumed that he had—a misunderstanding he did little to dispel. They had already been formulated by previous French writers, but Boileau expressed them in striking and vigorous terms. He also translated the classical treatise On the Sublime, attributed to Longinus. Ironically, it became one of the key sources of the aesthetics of Romanticism.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Boileau, Nicolas — (1636 1711)    poet, critic    of bourgeois background, Nicholas Boileau, or Boileau Despréaux, as he is known, was born in Paris and educated at the sorbonne. Considered to have had an important influence on French literature, as both a poet and …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Boileau, Nicolas — detto Boileau Despréaux …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • BOILEAU, NICOLAS —    (surnamed Despréaux, to distinguish him from his brother), poet and critic, born in Paris; brought up to the law, but devoted to letters, associating himself with La Fontaine, Racine, and Molière; author of Satires and Epistles, L Art Poétique …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux — Nicolas Boileau Pour les articles homonymes, voir Boileau. Boileau par Hyacinthe Rigaud Nicolas Boileau, dit aussi Boileau Despréaux, le …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Nicolas Boileau — alias Despréaux oder Boileau Despréaux (* 1. November 1636 in Paris; † 13. März 1711 ebenda) war ein französischer Autor, der lange uneingeschränkt zu den großen französischen Klassikern gerechnet wurde, heute aber nur noch als wichtige Figur der …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux — Nicolas Boileau Nicolas Boileau alias Despréaux oder Boileau Despréaux (* 1. November 1636 in Paris; † 13. März 1711 ebenda) war ein französischer Schriftsteller, der lange uneingeschränkt zu den großen französischen Klassikern gerechnet wurde,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nicolás Boileau — Boileau, cuadro de Rigaud. Nicolás Boileau Despréaux (París, 1 de noviembre de 1636 París, 13 de marzo de 1711), comúnmente llamado Boileau, fue un poeta y crítico francés …   Wikipedia Español

  • Boileau — (Nicolas, dit Boileau Despréaux) (1636 1711) écrivain français. Ses Satires (1660 1667, 1694, 1701 et 1711), ses épîtres (1669 1695) et surtout son Art poétique (1674) font de lui le grand théoricien du classicisme. Les Réflexions sur Longin… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Nicolas Boileau — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Boileau. Nicolas Boileau Boileau par …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Boileau-Despréaux — soprannome di Boileau, Nicolas …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

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