Élie Catherine Fréron
Élie Catherine Fréron (20 January 1718 – 10 March 1776) was a
French literary critic and controversialist whose career focused on
countering the influence of the philosophes of the French
Enlightenment, partly thorough his vehicle, the Année littéraire.
Thus Fréron, in recruiting young writers to counter the literary
Establishment became central to the movement now called the
Fréron was born at Quimper in
Brittany and educated by the Jesuits.
He made such rapid academic progress that he was appointed professor
at the college of Louis-le-Grand before he turned twenty. He became a
contributor to the Observations sur les écrits modernes of the abbé
Guyot Desfontaines. The very fact of his collaboration with
Desfontaines, one of Voltaire's bitterest enemies, was sufficient to
arouse the latter's hostility, and although Fréron had begun his
career as one of his admirers, his attitude towards
Fréron in 1746 founded a similar journal of his own, entitled Lettres
de la Comtesse de ... It was suppressed in 1749, but he immediately
replaced it by Lettres sur quelques écrits de ce temps, which, with
the exception of a short suspension in 1752, on account of an attack
on the character of Voltaire, was continued till 1754, when it was
succeeded by the more ambitious Année littéraire. His death at Paris
in 1776 is said to have been hastened by the temporary suppression of
Fréron is now remembered solely for his attacks on
Voltaire and the
Encyclopaedists, and for the retaliation from Voltaire, who, besides
attacking Fréron in epigrams, and even incidentally in some of his
tragedies, directed against him a virulent satire, Le Pauvre diable,
and made him the principal personage in a comedy L'Ecossaise, in which
the journal of Fréron is designated L'Âne littéraire, "the Literary
Ass". Fréron is also mentioned in Voltaire's famous novel Candide,
in reference to a rude critic the title character meets at a
theater. A further attack on Fréron entitled
Anecdotes sur Fréron ... (1760), published anonymously, is generally
attributed to Voltaire.
Fréron was the author of an Ode sur la bataille de Fontenoy (1745)
Histoire de Marie Stuart (1742, 2 vols.); and Histoire de l'empire
d'Allemagne (1771, 8 vols.).
He was the father of Stanislas Fréron, revolutionary
1742: Histoire de Marie Stuart, with abbé de Marsy.
1745: Ode sur la bataille de Fontenoy.
1746: Lettres de la comtesse de ***.
1749–1750 and 1752–1754, Lettres sur quelques écrits de ce temps,
with Joseph de La Porte, 13 vol.
1753: Opuscules, 3 vol.
1754–1790: L'Année littéraire, 290 vol.
1771: Histoire de l’empire d’Allemagne, 8 vol.
Jean Balcou (fr), Fréron contre les philosophes, Geneva, Droz,
Jean Balcou, Le Dossier Fréron. Correspondances et documents, Geneva,
Jean Balcou, Sophie Barthélemy et André Cariou (dir.), Fréron,
polémiste et critique d’art, Collection Interférences, 2001
François Cornou, Elie Fréron (1718-1775), Trente années de luttes
Voltaire et les philosophes du XVIII, Paris (Champion) et
Quimper (Le Goazion), 1922. Review by Louis Marcel in the Revue
d'histoire de l'Église de France, 1922, vol. 8, n° 41,
pp. 476–479, available at le site Persée.
Charles Monselet, Fréron ou l’illustre critique, Paris, R.
Julien Trévédy, Fréron et sa famille d’après des documents
authentiques & inédits rectifiant toutes les biographies,
Saint-Brieuc, L. & R. Prud'homme, 1889.
^ For Fréron's publications, see Jack Censer, The French Press in the
Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment (London) 1994, pp 102–10.
^ Jean Balcou, Fréron contre les philosophes (Geneva) 1975.
^ a b c d e One or more of the preceding
sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fréron, Élie Catherine".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
ISNI: 0000 0001 0903 5136
BNF: cb11903571g (data)