1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Furetière, Antoine

FURETIÈRE, ANTOINE (1619–1688), French scholar and miscellaneous writer, was born in Paris on the 28th of December 1619. He first studied law, and practised for a time as an advocate, but eventually took orders and after various preferments became abbé of Chalivoy in the diocese of Bourges in 1662. In his leisure moments he devoted himself to letters, and in virtue of his satires—Nouvelle Allégorique, ou histoire des derniers troubles arrivés au royaume d’éloquence (1658); Voyage de Mercure (1653)—he was admitted a member of the French Academy in 1662. That learned body had long promised a complete dictionary of the French tongue; and when they heard that Furetière was on the point of issuing a work of a similar nature, they interfered, alleging that he had purloined from their stores, and that they possessed the exclusive privilege of publishing such a book. After much bitter recrimination on both sides the offender was expelled in 1685; but for this act of injustice he took a severe revenge in his satire, Couches de l’académie (Amsterdam, 1687). His Dictionnaire universel was posthumously published in 1690 (Rotterdam, 2 vols.). It was afterwards revised and improved by the Protestant jurist, Henri Basnage de Beauval (1656–1710), who published his edition (3 vols.) in 1701; and it was only superseded by the compilation known as the Dictionnaire de Trévoux (Paris, 3 vols., 1704; 7th ed., 8 vols., 1771), which was in fact little more than a reimpression of Basnage’s edition. Furetière is perhaps even better known as the author of Le Roman bourgeois (1666). It cast ridicule on the fashionable romances of Mlle de Scudéry and of La Calprenède, and is of interest as descriptive of the everyday life of his times. There is no element of burlesque, as in Scarron’s Roman comique, but the author contents himself with stringing together a number of episodes and portraits, obviously drawn from life, without much attempt at sequence. The book was edited in 1854 by Edward Fournier and Charles Asselineau and by P. Jannet.

The Fureteriana, which appeared in Paris eight years after Furetière’s death, which took place on the 14th of May 1688, is a collection of but little value.