Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Journal of Literary History and Theory
Peer-reviewed Academic Journal

The doctrine of imitation of nature in the literary theory of French classicism

Makhov A.E.


The article shows how the poetology of French classicism adopts the principle of imitation of nature dating back to antiquity. Imitation in classicism is understood as a systematization of nature according to a «method»; it is achieved by the choice of objects and in a special way of imitation, which should raise nature to the status of a work of art. This method of imitation is characterized as improvement, correction, polishing, decoration; the nature is interpreted as something imperfect or incomplete, as a draft or as a material for the artist. Poet should also imitate nature in his style. At the level of the depicted reality art must raise nature to a higher sphere of aesthetic values; but at the level of style, on the contrary, art descends to nature, to its artless simplicity. The choice of imitation as the main creative strategy is justified by the fact that all actions of nature itself are also imitations. Therefore, imitation is interpreted not anthropologically, as a property of man (such was the case in Aristotle’s «Poetics»), but as a universal property of the world.


classicism; imitation; nature; method; style; Nicolas Boileau; René Rapin; Jean Chapelain; Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac; Guillaume Colletet

DOI: 10.31249/litzhur/2020.49.05

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