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Le Sage, Alain René

Alain René Le Sage (älăN´ rənā´ ləsäzh´), 1668–1747, French novelist and dramatist. His masterpiece, Gil Blas de Santillane (1715–35, tr. by Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, 1749), is a rambling story in the style of Spanish picaresque romances, though unlike them in conception. It is instead strongly realistic, especially in its incidents; exact description of exterior and physical appearance suffices to show character and to imply moral judgment. Gil Blas was a major influence in the development of the realistic novel. Smollett drew heavily on it, especially in Roderick Random. Of Le Sage's lesser novels, Le Diable boiteux (1707; tr. The Devil upon Two Sticks, 1708) is an adaptation of a Spanish novel, and Le Bachelier de Salamanque (1736, tr. 1737) is an imitation of Gil Blas. Le Sage made his living by writing light pieces for the theaters of Paris; his best dramatic work is Turcaret (1709), a comedy of character, which bitterly satirizes tax farmers and the world of finance in general.

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