In 1757, Bernard de Bavier de Fontenelle, the well-known popularizer of scientific thinking, homme de lettres, and secretary of the Académie des Sciences, died just months shy of his hundredth birthday. In 1758, Volume 10 of Fontenelle's Oeuvres appeared, edited by Fontenelle's chosen literary executor, the abbé Trublet. Along with a number of other works, Volume 10 contains a tragedy dating from 1690 entitled Brutus. This play has had a complex and curious history. The year 1758 marks the first time that Brutus appears under Fontenelle's name, but hardly the last. In 1690, when the play was first performed and published, it appeared under the name of Catherine Bernard. The complicated tale of the fortunes of Brutus, the shift of attribution and the appropriations to which it has been subjected, tell us much about the literary culture of the eighteenth century, about the place of women writers in the ancient régime, and about how women's works have been arrogated by men.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Ekstein, N. (1996). Appropriation and gender: The case of Catherine Bernard and Bernard de Fontenelle. Eighteenth-Century Studies, 30(1), 59-80. doi:10.1353/ecs.1996.0043