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of Chateaubriand (see his Génie du Christianisme); cf. page 41, line 20.

Page 3. 1. le simple et le naturel! the watchword of French literature from Malherbe to Rousseau; yet La Bruyère was the first noteworthy transgressor of the "simple and natural" style.

2. Un auteur moderne, etc.; allusion to the dispute over the comparative merits of ancient and modern writers, which lasted from 1670 to 1715. A direct hit at Fontenelle may be seen here, who published his Poésies pastorales in 1688. These were accompanied by an attack on the ancients, and a citation of his own poems as models of pastoral composition. This paragraph first appeared in 1689. See the portrait of Fontenelle (Cydias): "De la Société et de la Conversation," no. 75, pages 36-38.


3. habiles, intelligent people, competent;" cf. page 2, line 5.

Page 4.1. Ceux qui écrivent par humeur, in Caractère 63 of this chapter this same phrase occurs, and has been explained as those who draw on themselves for their material, but here it would seem to be used in the sense of writing on the spur of the moment. 2. un ouvrage parfait ou régulier! a work made in accordance with the rules of the art. What relates particularly to le Cid seems to be a paraphrase of Boileau's well-known lines:

"En vain contre le Cid un ministre se ligue:

Tout Paris pour Chimène a les yeux de Rodrigue," etc.
Satire IX, 231 ff.

3. l'autorité et la politique, the Academy and Richelieu.

Page 5.

-I. et l'une des meilleures critiques, the Academy's Sentiments (1638).

2. fait de main d'ouvrier = fait de main de maître.

3. Balzac, Jean-Louis Guez de (1597-1655), letter-writer and the most influential critic of his day.

4. Voiture, Vincent (1598–1648), a follower of Balzac in the art of letter-writing and the favorite poet of the Hôtel de Rambouillet. 5. Ce sexe, etc., Mme de Sévigné had begun her incomparable correspondence twenty years before this Caractère. Mme de Maintenon, Mme de La Fayette and many others had also shown great talent in the same line.

6. Térence (194-158 B.C.), author of Latin comedies.

7. le jargon et le barbarisme, et d'écrire purement; Molière's language is not so uniformly correct as the language of the other great writers of the age. Jargon and barbarisme probably have reference to the expressions of his soubrettes and the dialect of his peasants.

Page 6. - I. Malherbe, François (1555-1628), critic and court poet under Henry IV and Louis XIII, the reformer of French versification; cf. no. 60.

2. Théophile de Viau (1590-1626), poet and dramatist, author of the pastoral drama, Pyrame et Thisbé (about 1621). His style, much affected by Gongorism, is quite the opposite of Malherbe's. 3. la nature, see page 3, note 1.

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6. Ronsard, Pierre de (1524-1585), head of the Renaissance school and the Pléiade group of writers.'

7. Marot, Clément (about 1495-1544), court poet under Francis I.

8. ce premier, now more usually celui-là.

9, 10. nui-revenir, the view of Ronsard at this time. It had been formulated by Boileau in the first book of his Art poétique (11. 123-130).

11, 12, 13. Belleau, Remy (1528-1577), author of descriptive poems and member of the Pléiade. — Jodelle, Étienne (1532–1573), dramatist of the Pléiade and reviver of classical tragedy. - Du Bartas, Guillaume (about 1540-1590), author of a religious epic on the Creation, la Semaine (1579), which influenced Milton.

14. Racan, Honorat de Bueil, marquis de (1589-1670), poet of nature, simple and emotional.

15. réparée; Boileau had said of Malherbe:

"Par ce sage écrivain la langue réparée."

(Art Poétique, I, 135.)

16. Rabelais, François (about 1495-about 1553), the well-known author of Pantagruel.

Page 7.


1. Montagne, Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), the

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3, 4. Amyot, Jacques (1513-1593), translator, especially of Plutarch's Lives, still the favorite book for boys in France. - Coëffeteau, Nicolas (1574-1623), author of a now forgotten Histoire romaine, but a clear and correct writer.

5. Ce n'est point assez, etc.; the keys of the day would have this paragraph refer to the comedies of the actor Baron (Michel Boyron, 1653-1729), and the last few lines to his Homme à bonnes fortunes (1686) particularly. But Molière may also have been in mind (“d'un malade dans sa garde-robe”), while the question is the general one of realism versus theatrical conventions.

Page 8.-I. comédies, here probably used in its wider sense of plays in general. This judgment of Corneille by a contemporary and admirer of Racine is particularly interesting.

2. mœurs, customs of the people, Romans or others, depicted by Corneille.

3. lus, La Bruyère wrote lu.

Page 9. — 1. qui tendent, possibly for qu'ils tendent, but more probably another instance of the construction seen before; cf. page 2, note 2.

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2, 3. Porus is a character in Racine's Alexandre. — Burrhus is in Racine's Britannicus.

4. Oedipe was a success at the time, but is no longer placed beside Horace.

Page 10. -I. Euripide, the editors call attention to the likeness that this comparison of the two great tragic poets bears to a Parallèle de M. Corneille et de M. Racine, written in 1686 by Hilaire-Bernard, baron de Longepierre (1659–1721), a mediocre essayist and unsuccessful playwright.

Page 11.-I. L'on écrit régulièrement, etc.; this review of French literature might well have gone back ten years farther, to Pascal's Lettres provinciales. Notice the essential qualitities of French style, "ordre" and "netteté" (line 15).

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3. Despréaux, Nicolas Boileau—(1636–1711), the French critic. 4. moi, the editors refer to a passage in Montaigne's Essais,

Book I, ch. 25 (Louandre's ed'n vol. I., p. 205), which expresses the same idea.


Page 13. - I. vale


vaille, an antiquated form.

Page 14.- 1. aïeuls


aïeux, the distinction now made between the plurals of aïeul did not obtain in the seventeenth century. 2. V *** est un peintre, Claude-François Vignon, the younger (1633-1703), historical painter.

3. C*** un musicien, Pascal Colasse (?1639–1700), composer

and orchestra leader.

4. l'auteur de Pyrame, Nicolas Pradon (1632-1698), Racine's rival at the time of Phèdre. His Pyrame et Thisbé, a tragedy, was played in 1674.

5. Mignard, Pierre (1608–1695), the great portrait painter of the century.

6. Lulli, Jean-Baptiste (1633-1687), the creator of French opera. Page 15.-1. Emile, the great Condé, into whose household La Bruyère had entered in 1684 as tutor to the Duc de Bourbon. Page 16. 3.—1. avant que de, preferred in the seventeenth century to avant de.

2. ennobli, La Bruyère wrote annobli, which is now limited in meaning.

3. au chef de sa famille, the King, Louis XIV, since Condé was of the blood royal.

4. Les enfants des Dieux. "Fils, petits-fils, issus de rois." (Note by La Bruyère.)

Page 17.-1. Mopse, supposed to be the Abbé de Saint-Pierre (Charles-Irénée Castel, 1658-1743).

Page 18. -I. la rupture des deux ministres, probably an allusion to the disagreement between Louvois and de Seignelay in 1690, over the support to be given to James II of England by the French government.

Page 19.1. modestie, a slur on the nobles who, well installed at home, willingly endured discomfort in order to be near the king. 2. La fausse grandeur, etc.; the remarks in this paragraph might

be plausibly attributed to the example set by Condé himself, a prince of the blood royal. — Bossuet in his funeral oration on Condé bears witness to his simplicity.


Page 20. -1. ruelle, sleeping room where the ladies of the day received. So called because of the space between the bed and the wall, where visitors might be seated; an alcove.

2. habit gris, country dress assumed by magistrates who aspired to elegance. They would usually dress in black.

3. baudrier, the baldric would presume that the wearer carried a sword, a distinction which properly belonged to the nobility only. 4. une écharpe d'or, worn only by members of the king's household and privileged persons of the court.

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5. qui parle au roi, the editors recall the famous scene of le Bourgeois gentilhomme: DORANTE ... Vous êtes l'homme du monde que j'estime le plus, et je parlais de vous encore ce matin dans la chambre du roi, etc. (Act III, sc. IV.)

6. à quatre lieues de là, at Versailles, where the court was located under Louis XIV.

7. savantes, probably suggested by the passage in Molière's Femmes savantes, where Philaminte protests:

Et je veux nous venger, toutes tant que nous sommes,

De cette indigne classe où nous rangent les hommes,

De borner nos talents à des futilités,

Et nous fermer la porte aux sublimes clartés. (11.853-856.)

Page 21.-I. domestique, household.

2. endroits, particulars, frequent in this sense in the seventeenth century.

3. fait, does, rarely with this meaning today.


A large part of this chapter is on friendship and love.

Page 23.1. Drance, supposed to be the Comte de ClermontTonnerre, chamberlain of Monsieur, the king's brother.

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