Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/René le Bossu

BOSSU, René le, an eminent French critic, born at Paris, March 16, 1631. He studied at Nanterre, and in 1649 entered among the regular canons of Sainte-Genevieve. After having acted as professor in different religious houses for twelve years, he withdrew into retirement. His first publication was Parallele des Principes de la Physique d'Aristote et de celle de René Descartes, which appeared in 1674, but met with little success. His next work, entitled Traité du Poème Epique, was published in 1675, and often reprinted afterwards. Its leading doctrine is that the subject should be chosen before the characters, and that the action should be arranged without reference to the personages who are to figure in the scene. Boileau, in his Third Reflexion on Longinus, pronounced this work "l'un des meilleurs livres de poétique qui, du consentemeut de tous les habiles gens, aient été faits en nôtre langue." It may be mentioned, however, that Bossu is said to have defended Boileau against Saint-Sorlin, and to have received his thanks for that service; and a sense of obligation may perhaps have dictated the commendation which Boileau bestowed on the work. Bossu died March 14, 1680.