Portraiture is a deeply rooted and characteristics feature of seventeenth-century France. Verbal portraits abound in the literature of the period. By the time Molière wrote Le Misanthrope and Tartuffe (1664-1669), the «gallant» portrait had already known a great vogue, first with Mlle de Scudéry's Grand Cyrus (1649-53) and Clélie (1654-61), and then in the salons of the nobility and the bourgeoisie, as reflected in the Divers Portraits (1659) and the Recueil de Portraits et Eloges (1659). Adaptations of the verbal portrait would later appear in memoirs, letters, sermons, novels, and «caractères», remaining an important force in literature to the end of the century.
Ekstein, N. (1989). Le Misanthrope and Tartuffe: Two critiques of verbal portraiture. Rivista di letterature moderne e comparate, 42, 137-152.
Rivista di letterature moderne e comparate