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XVII. women's influence on literary style.

We are fortunate in having from one of the masters of French literature, Fontenelle, a felicitous statement of what women had contributed up to his time, through men, in the formation of literary style; and though the statement was made more than a century ago, and made for Frenchmen, it still has in it much truth for all manner of persons. Fontenelle, it should be remembered, died in 1757, within a month of completing his hundred years, and without the slightest impairing of his vivacity and keenness of mind. His bodily powers had suffered just enough to make him apologize at ninety-five for not stooping to pick up a lady's fan with quite the agility of eighty years; but his very infirmities, such as they were, were only material for witticisms; and he remarked when dying, “I am not in pain, but I am troubled with a sort of difficulty in existing” (Je ne souffre pas, mais je sens une certain difficult daetre). And this vivacious old man, who had seen the flowering and fruitage

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