Best Known For
Jean de La Bruyère was a 17th century French writer known for his satirical work The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Jean de La Bruyère, born in Paris in August 1645, studied law at the University of Orléans and went on to become a royal tutor. In 1688, he published the satirical work The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus, which critiqued class disparities found in aristocratic society. La Bruyère was elected to the French Academy in 1693. He died in Versailles, France, in May 1696.
"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."
"All of our unhappiness comes from our inability to be alone."
"It is a sad thing when men have neither the wit to speak well nor the judgment to hold their tongues."
French satirist Jean de La Bruyère was born in August 1645 and baptized in Paris. Not much is known of his early life: He was solidly middle class, the son of a comptroller general of municipal revenue. It is presumed that he was educated by the Oratorains (as Montesquieu would be about a half century later) and then obtained a law degree at the University of Orléans. But thanks to a small inheritance from an uncle, he was able to give up his position as an advocate in the Parlement of Paris, to purchase a post from the treasurer of finances at Caen in 1673. It was probably this position that introduced him to the noted theologian, orator and humanist Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, who was able to get La Bruyère installed in the noble household of the Grand Condé, Louis II de Bourbon, as tutor to his grandson.
The Condés were known to pride themselves on their association with men of letters, and La Bruyère was noted for his impressive vocabulary.
As a writer, Jean de La Bruyère is basically a one-hit wonder, but his big success, The Characters, or the Manners of the Age, with The Characters of Theophrastus, published in 1688, catapulted him into the pantheon of French literary authors.
Part classical translation, part philosophy, and part satire and moralist posturing, The Characters went through eight editions in the author's lifetime alone, with him adding more and more contemporary references to each subsequent edition, so that it morphed from emphasis on a translation of the Greek philosopher Theophrastus to pungent social commentary. La Bruyère's middle-class upbringing and proximity to court life gave him a bird's-eye view of each stratum of society, which both infuriated and fascinated his readers.
A good degree of his success has to be attributed to what amounted to "blind items" in the character studies, which proved so tantalizing that "keys" were published as companion pieces to the book to help identify the "fictional" characters.
Naturally, this made La Bruyère many enemies, coupled with his taciturn nature and ungainly physical presence. But with the popularity and incisiveness of the work, as well the protection of the Condés, he was elected to the Académie Française in 1693.
Jean de La Bruyère died suddenly at Versailles on May 10 or 11, 1696. There was some speculation of foul play, which was eventually ruled out.
A treatise against religious mysticism, Dialogues sur le Quiétisme (Dialogues on Quietism) by La Bruyère, was published just after his death but never reached the height of popularity that The Characters enjoyed. The Duke de Saint-Simon defended his nature, and authors Gustave Flaubert and Marcel Proust were noted fans.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
profile name: Jean de La Bruyère profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous People Named Jean 19 people in this group
Like in Gone With the Wind, The Sun Also Rises after Twilight, even in a Pet Cemetary Where the Wild Things Are. But let's not be too morbid and discuss creepy things like The Satanic Verses or try to get an Interview With a Vampire from The Stranger Who Professes 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.' Going round in round like this, you may never know Where the Sidewalk Ends, and that would be unfortunate since Uncle Tom's Cabin is just around the corner...
Okay, we could go on, but we won't torture you. You get the point. Our attempt at creative writing is nothing compared to the imaginative minds of our Famous Fiction Authors Group.
Famous Fiction Authors 412 people in this group
Famous French People 310 people in this group