Few authors have been as discreet about their private lives as Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux. Born Pierre Carlet in Paris on February 4, 1688, he left practically no correspondence, and an analysis of his writings does not help much. The most elementary facts of his biography have been established recently through scholarly scrutiny of legal documents. His father, Nicolas Carlet, was a naval officer, then a supply officer, before becoming director of the royal mint in Riom, a small town in central France. His mother was Marie-Anne Bullet; his maternal uncle, Pierre Bullet, and a cousin, Jean-Baptiste Bullet de Chamblain, were well-known and successful architects.
Marivaux probably spent half of his first twenty years in the provinces and the other half in Paris visiting relatives and friends. He may have attended the Collège de Riom, run by Oratorian monks; he studied Latin but admitted having no knowledge of Greek. In 1710, he registered at the Faculty of Law in Paris while still a resident of Riom. His first comedy, Le Père prudent et équitable: Ou, Crispin l’heureux fourbe (pr. c. 1709; the careful and just father), was performed in Limoges in 1712 and published with a preface signed “M***.” The same year, he moved to Paris, where he was welcome in the fashionable salon of Madame de Lambert and later of Madame de Tencin. He embraced the cause of the “Moderns” with Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and Antoine Houdar de La...
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