Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Boileau, Nicolas (1636-1711), French critic, born at Paris. He studied both law and theology, but on coming of age and inheriting property he abandoned both for literature. In French literature he holds a well-defined place as having on the one hand reduced versification to rule, and as having polished and refined both prose and poetical styles; and on the other as having robbed French poetry of much of its fire and power, and having cramped and crippled French drama and given it a stilted, artificial character. His Art Poetique is founded upon the Ars Poetica of Horace, and aims at doing for the French language what Horace's essay did for the Latin. Pope's essay on Criticism is an imitation of this, just as Le Lutrin gave Pope a model for the Rape of the Lock. Among his works was a translation of Longinus on the Sublime, and his satirical prose Dialogue des Heros de Roman gave a deathblow to the elaborate romances of the time upon which they were a satire. The first piece that showed his peculiar powers was Adieux d'un Poete a la ville de Paris. Boileau obtained the favour of the king, and was associated with Racine as court historiographer, as well as being the recipient of several pensions. On the whole his mission appears to have been to serve as a sort of sieve or filter for purifying and arranging the flood of new ideas and works that the 16th century had brought into France.