Race Lines and the Rhetoric of Distinction through the Académie française
Chapter 4–The Dictionnaire de l’Académie and its Meaning 69
Chapter 4 The Dictionnaire de l’Académie and its Meaning When on August 24, 1694, the director of the Académie solemnly presented a copy of the first edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie to the king (Louis XIV), it was the final step of a long aspiration formed by Richelieu, who was Prime Minister to the previous king (Louis XIII), and Chapelain, one of the main actors in the foundation of the Académie. But the edition of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie was most importantly a fulfillment of the requirement indicated by the founding document of the institution. In fact, article XXVI of the statutes of the Académie dating from February 22, 1635 indicates that there should be a dictionary of the French language organized by the institution being founded. However, in spite of the importance of the assignment, the Académiciens were slow in doing the work. Chapelain and Richelieu finally agreed in 1638 to trust the work to Vaugelas, but the latter’s death in 1650 led to his creditors taking away everything that he had, includ- ing the manuscript of the Dictionnaire de l’Académie. A year later, the Académie succeeded in getting the manuscript back and having Mézeray continue the work. As an encouragement for the work to succeed, Louis XIV gave the Académie the privilege of putting together the only dictionary pro- tected by the King. He gave the Dictionnaire de l’Académie a legal status and a monopoly...
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