François de Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon


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Much admired French theologian and writer. As tutor to the Duke of Burgundy, he wrote Télémaque (1699), holding up Ulysses as an example for the young prince. Other writings include a treatise (1687) on female education, and Explications des maximes des saints (1697), mystical instructions in faith for which Fénelon was banished. His quietism brought a long quarrel with his former patron Bossuet, which was settled in 1699 when Pope Innocent XII condemned Fénelon. His Refuta-tion of Malebranche was a relatively young work; as a philosopher he was influenced by Augus-tine and Descartes, but notable for the charm of his writing rather than originality or precision of thought.

Subjects: Literature.

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