Online Encyclopedia

GILLES MENAGE (1613-1692)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 108 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GILLES MENAGE (1613-1692), French scholar, son of Guillaume Menage, king's advocate at Angers, was born in that city on the 15th of August 1613. A tenacious memory and an early enthusiasm for learning carried him speedily through his literary and professional studies, and he practised at the bar at Angers as early as 1632. In the same year he pleaded several causes before the parlement of Paris. but illness induced him to abandon the legal profession for the church.. He became prior of Montdidier without taking holy orders, and lived for some years in the household of Cardinal de Retz (then coadjutor to the archbishop of Paris), where he had leisure for literary pursuits. Some time after 1648 he quarrelled with his patron and withdrew to a house in the cloister of Notre-Dame, where he gathered round him on Wednesday evenings those literary assemblies which he called " Mercuriales." Chapelain, Pellisson, Conrart, Sarrazin and Du Bos were among the habitues. He was admitted to the Della Cruscan Academy of Florence, but his caustic sarcasm led to his exclusion from the French Academy. Menage made many enemies and suffered under the satire of Boileau and of Moliere. Moliere immortalized him as the pedant Vadius in Les Femmes savantes, a portrait Menage pretended to ignore. He died in Paris on the 23rd of July 1692. Of his works the following may be mentioned: Poemata latina, gallica, graeca, et italica (1656) ; Origin della lingua italiana (x669) ; Dictionnaire etymologique (165o and 1670); Observations sur la langue franiaise (1672-1676), and Anti-Baillet (169o).
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