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Encyclopedia > Jean de La Bruyère

Jean de La Bruyère (August 16, 1645 - May 10, 1696), was a French essayist and moralist. August 16 is the 228th day of the year (229th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Events February 15 - English Civil War: New Model Army is founded officially June 14 - English Civil War: Battle of Naseby - 12,000 Royalist forces are beaten by 15,000 Parliamentarian soldiers June 28 - English Civil War - the Royalists lose Carlisle July 2: Fight at Alford, Aberdeenshire October 8: Jeanne Mance... May 10 is the 130th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (131st in leap years). ... The year 1696 had the earliest equinoxes and solstices for 400 years in the Gregorian calendar, because this year is a leap year and the Gregorian calendar would have behaved like the Julian calendar since March 1500 had it have been in use that long. ... The French Republic or France (French: République française or France) is a country whose metropolitan territory is located in western Europe, and which is further made up of a collection of overseas islands and territories located in other continents. ... An essayist is an author who writes compositions which can be about any particular subject. ... A moralist is a person for whom moral conduct, morality, and the correctness of moral thought are paramount. ...



He was born in Paris, not, as was once thought, at Dourdan (in today's Essonne département) in 1639. His family was middle class, and his reference to a certain Geoffroy de La Bruyère, a crusader, is only a satirical illustration of a method of self-ennoblement common in France as in some other countries. Indeed he himself always signed the name Delabruyère in one word, as evidence of this. He could trace his family back at least as far as his great-grandfather, who had been a strong Leaguer. La Bruyère's own father was controller general of finance to the Hotel de Ville. The French département of Essonne is part of the région of Île-de-France. ... The départements (or departments) are administrative units of France, roughly analogous to British counties and are now grouped into 22 metropolitan and four overseas régions. ... The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ... This article is about historical Crusades . ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... In French, a hôtel de ville or mairie is a town hall (and not a hotel). ...

Early life

The son was educated by the Oratorians and at the University of Orléans; he was called to the bar, and in 1673 bought a post in the revenue department at Caen, which gave him status and an income. His predecessor in the post was a relation of Jacques Benigne Bossuet, and it is thought that the transaction was the cause of La Bruyère's introduction to the great orator Bossuet, who from the date of his own preceptorship of the Dauphin, was a kind of agent-general for tutorships in the royal family, introduced him in 1684 to the household of the Henry II, Prince of Condé, to whose grandson Henry-Julius as well as to that prince's girl-bride Mlle de Nantes, one of Louis XIV's natural children, La Bruyère became tutor. The rest of his life was passed in the household of the prince or else at court, and he seems to have profited by the inclination which all the Condé family had for the society of men of letters. The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is a congregation of Roman Catholic priests and lay-brothers who live together in community bound together by no formal vows but only with the bond of charity. ... A bar association is a body of lawyers who, in some jurisdictions, are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession. ... Events The English Test Act was passed. ... Location within France Caen is a city and a commune of northwestern France. ... Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (September 27, 1627 - April 12, 1704) was a French bishop, theologian, and court preacher. ... Jacques_Benigne Bossuet (September 27, 1627 - April 12, 1704) was a French bishop, theologian, and court preacher. ... The Dauphin was the heir apparent to the throne of France under the Valois and Bourbon dynasties. ... Events France under Louis XIV makes Truce of Ratisbon separately with the Empire and Spain. ... Henry II of Bourbon (September 1, 1588 – December 26, 1646) became Prince of Condé shortly after his birth, following the death of his father Henry I in battle. ... Louis XIV King of France and Navarre By Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701) Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715) reigned as King of France and King of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death. ...

Very little is known of the events of this part - or, indeed, of any part - of his life. The impression derived from the few notices of him is of a silent, observant, but somewhat awkward man, resembling in manners Joseph Addison, whose master in literature La Bruyère undoubtedly was. Yet despite the numerous enemies which his book raised up for him, most of these notices are favourable - notably that of Saint-Simon, an acute judge and one bitterly prejudiced against roturiers generally. There is, however, a curious passage in a letter from Boileau to Racine in which he regrets that "nature has not made La Bruyère as agreeable as he would like to be." Joseph Addison, the Kit-cat portrait, circa 1703-1712, by Godfrey Kneller. ... Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon (October 17, 1760 - May 19, 1825), the founder of French socialism, was born in Paris. ... Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux, commonly called Boileau, (November 1, 1636 - March 13, 1711) was a French poet and critic. ... Jean Racine (December 22, 1639 - April 21, 1699) was a French dramatist, one of the big three of 17th century France (along with Molière and Corneille). ...

Literary activity

His Caractères appeared in 1688, and at once, as Nicolas de Malezieu had predicted, brought him "bien des lecteurs et bien des ennemis" (many readers and many enemies). Events A high-powered conspiracy of notables, the Immortal Seven, invite William and Mary to depose James II of England. ...

At the head of these were Thomas Corneille, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and Isaac de Benserade, who were clearly aimed at in the book, as well as innumerable other persons, men and women of letters as well as of society, identifiable by manuscript "keys" compiled by the scribblers of the day. The friendship of Bossuet and protection of the Condés sufficiently defended the author, and he continued to insert fresh portraits of his contemporaries in each new edition of his book, especially in the 4th (1689). Those, however, whom he had attacked were powerful in the French Academy, and numerous defeats awaited La Bruyère before he could make his way into that guarded hold. He was defeated thrice in 1691, and on one memorable occasion he had but seven votes, five of which were those of Bossuet, Boileau, Racine, Paul Pellisson and Bussy-Rabutin. Thomas Corneille (August 20, 1625 - December 8, 1709) was a French dramatist. ... Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, also referred to as Bernard le Bouyer de Fontenelle (February 11, 1657 _ January 9, 1757) was a French author. ... Isaac de Benserade (baptized November 5, 1613 - October 10, 1691) was a French poet. ... Self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh A portrait is a painting, photograph, or other artistic representation of a person. ... The Académie française (French Academy) is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. ... Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux, commonly called Boileau, (November 1, 1636 - March 13, 1711) was a French poet and critic. ... Jean Racine (December 22, 1639 - April 21, 1699) was a French dramatist, one of the big three of 17th century France (along with Molière and Corneille). ... Paul Pellisson (October 30, 1624 - February 7, 1693) was a French author. ... Roger de Rabutin, Comte de Bussy (April 13, 1618 - April 9, 1693), commonly known as Bussy-Rabutin, was a French memoir-writer. ...

It was not till 1693 that he was elected, and even then an epigram, which, considering his admitted insignificance in conversation, was not of the worst, lacesit lateri: Events January 11 - Eruption of Mt. ...

 "Quand La Bruyère se présente Pourquoi faut il crier haro? Pour faire un nombre de quarante Ne falloit il pas un zéro" 

His unpopularity was, however, chiefly confined to the subjects of his sarcastic portraiture, and to the hack writers of the time, of whom he was wont to speak with a disdain only surpassed by that of Alexander Pope. His description of the Mercure galant as "immédiatement au dessous de rien" (immediately above nothing) is the best-remembered specimen of these unwise attacks; and would of itself account for the enmity of the editors, Fontenelle and the younger Corneille. La Bruyère's discourse of admission at the Academy, one of the best of its kind, was, like his admission itself, severely criticized, especially by the partisans of the "Moderns" in the "Ancient and Modern" quarrel. With the Caractères, the translation of Theophrastus, and a few letters, most of them addressed to the prince de Condé, it completes the list of his literary work, with the exception of a curious and much-disputed posthumous treatise. Alexander Pope - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins/monobook/IE50Fixes. ... Theophrastus, the successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school, a native of Eresus in Lesbos, was born c. ...

La Bruyère died very suddenly, and not long after his admission to the Academy. He is said to have been struck dumb in an assembly of his friends, and, being carried home to the Hôtel de Condé, to have expired of apoplexy a day or two afterwards. It is not surprising that, considering the recent panic about poisoning, the bitter personal enmities which he had excited and the peculiar circumstances of his death, suspicions of foul play should have been entertained, but there was apparently no foundation for them. Two years after his death appeared certain Dialogues sur le Quiétisme, alleged to have been found among his papers incomplete, and to have been completed by the editor. Apoplexy is an old-fashioned medical term, generally used interchangeably with cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke) but having other meanings as well. ...

As these dialogues are far inferior in literary merit to La Bruyère's other works, their genuineness has been denied. But the straightforward and circumstantial account of their appearance given by this editor, the Abbé du Pin, a man of acknowledged probity, the intimacy of La Bruyère with Bossuet, whose views in his contest with Fénelon these dialogues are designed to further, and the entire absence, at so short a time after the alleged author's death, of the least protest on the part of his friends and representatives, seem to be decisive in their favour.

The Caractères

Although it is permissible to doubt whether the value of the Caractères has not been somewhat exaggerated by traditional French criticism, they deserve beyond all question a high place.

The plan of the book is thoroughly original, if that term may be accorded to a novel and skilful combination of existing elements. The treatise of Theophrastus may have furnished the first idea, but it gave little more. With the ethical generalizations and social Dutch painting of his original La Bruyère combined the peculiarities of the Montaigne Essais, of the Pensées and Maximes of which Pascal and La Rochefoucauld are the masters respectively, and lastly of that peculiar 17th century product, the "portrait" or elaborate literary picture of the personal and mental characteristics of an individual. The result was quite unlike anything that had been before seen, and it has not been exactly reproduced since, though the essay of Addison and Steele resembles it very closely, especially in the introduction of fancy portraits. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay. ... Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ...

In the titles of his work, and in its extreme desultoriness, La Bruyère reminds the reader of Montaigne, but he aimed too much at sententiousness to attempt even the apparent continuity of the great essayist. The short paragraphs of which his chapters consist are made up of maxims proper, of criticisms literary and ethical, and above all of the celebrated sketches of individuals baptized with names taken from the plays and romances of the time. These last are the great feature of the work, and that which gave it its immediate if not its enduring popularity. They are wonderfully piquant, extraordinarily life-like in a certain sense, and must have given great pleasure or more frequently exquisite pain to the originals, who were in many cases unmistakable and in most recognizable. Maxim may refer to: Hiram Maxim, inventor and firearm designer Maxim machine gun Joey Maxim, boxer, world light heavyweight champion Maxim, a mens magazine A maxim, a wise saying similar to an aphorism Maxim IC, manufacturer of analog and mixed signal integrated circuits Maxim Institute, a conservative think tank...

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica ( 1911) in many ways represents the sum of knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century. ...

Preceded by:
Pierre Cureau de La Chambre
Seat 36
Académie française
Succeeded by:
Claude Fleury



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