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belles-lettres

belles-lettres (bĕl-lĕ´trə) [from the French for literature, literally "fine letters" ], literature that is appreciated for the beauty, artistry, and originality of its style and tone rather than for its ideas and informational content. Earlier the term was synonymous with literature, referring particularly to fiction, poetry, drama, criticism, and essays. However, belletristic literature has come to mean light, artificial writing and essays extolling the beauties of literature.

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belles-lettres

belles-let·tres / ˌbel ˈletrə/ • pl. n. [also treated as sing.] 1. essays, particularly of literary and artistic criticism, written and read primarily for their aesthetic effect. 2. literature considered as a fine art. DERIVATIVES: bel·let·rism / belˈletrizəm/ n. bel·let·rist / belˈletrist/ n. bel·let·ris·tic / ˌbeləˈtristik/ adj.

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belles-lettres

belles-lettres XVIII. — F., lit. ‘fine letters or literature’, parallel to beaux arts fine arts; see BELLE, LETTER.
Hence belletrist, belletristic XIX.

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belles-lettres

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