Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux – Biography and Works

Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux was a French critic, poet and a historian. He was born in 1636 and died at the age of 75, in 1711. He is widely known as just Boileau. His literary work of art was massively impressed by Horace and he brought many reformations in the prevailing form of French poetry.

Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

Boileau was regarded as the most supreme post classical literary figure who later influenced the great poets like Dr. Johnson, Dryden, Pope and Addison. His well-known L'Art Poétique (1674) is divided into four cantos. For him, language is a secret medium of expression – expression which follows the thought. He is in opposite polar with Benedetto Croce in terms of views of thinking and expression. Benedetto Croce identifies intuition with expression. As per Boileau an artist must know the skill “to please and to teach” through work of art at the same time. He strongly believed in the opinion that in order to imitate nature, one should imitate the classical writers, in order to imitate nature one should fly neither too high nor too low. The famous metaphor of “meadow brook” reflects his views – about creative writers.

Boileau Study Center

The Art of Poetry

Mimetic Theory: Introduction