Famous Quotes Explained: « What is well conceived is clearly expressed. And the words to say it come easily. », Nicolas Boileau, The Art of Poetry, 1674.
Through his work The Art of Poetry, Boileau establishes the rules of classicism, good taste, and classical poetic writing. He drew inspiration from the Ancients, especially Aristotle and his work The Poetics.
Thus, concepts such as decorum, the need not to shock the reader or viewer, verisimilitude, the need to immerse the reader or viewer in the action, were established by Boileau.
He also emphasized the brevity of exposition, of introduction in a work. This quote is in the same vein. He honors the clarity, simplicity of the subject matter, as well as the fact that words come naturally to express one’s thoughts.
This quote represents many of the conventions of writing in French. Since Boileau, the language does not tolerate repetitions or long, convoluted sentences. Additionally, the steps and plan of thought in a text must be easily discernible.
It is also worth noting the relevance of the quote’s message about the primary action of writing, which is thinking. Without a clear, lucid, and assured idea, writing, which is only an intermediary of thought, will not be understandable. Thinking correctly allows for good writing, not the other way around.
Lastly, the quote itself embodies this aspiration, this advice. These two lines respond rhythmically in binary time: first, « What is well conceived, » then « is clearly expressed. » The second line follows the same pattern: « And the words to say it, » note the logical connector « and, » « come easily. » The caesura at the hemistich of the Alexandrine is perfectly respected in both cases, and the parallel construction adds to the fluidity of the discourse.
Note that the words used are easily understandable and perfectly articulated.
What is well conceived is clearly expressed. And the words to say it come easily.
Links to Another quotes explained: Famous quotes explained: « Education is given by the family; instruction is owed by the state. », Victor Hugo, Words and deeds, 1876. Famous Quotes explained: « One person is missing, and everything is depopulated. » Méditations poétiques, « L’Isolement », Lamartine, 1820. Famous quotes explained: « To love is to know how to say ‘I love you’ without speaking. » Victor Hugo
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