Abate Prevost

Antoine François Prévost ( Hesdin , 1 of April of 1697 – Chantilly , 25 of November of 1763 ), better known by his ecclesiastical title of Abbe Prevost was a novelist, historian and translator French. His life was full of dark spots due to the lack of sufficient documents of the time.


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  • 1 Life
    • 1 Education
    • 2 Ordination
    • 3 In England and France
    • 4 Death
  • 2 The Church and her lover Lenki
  • 3 Works
  • 4 References about his novels
    • 1 From Louis XIV to the Regency of Felipe de Orleans
    • 2 Manon Lescaut as part of “Memories of a quality man”
    • 3 The knight Des Grieux bewitched by love: from noble to rogue
    • 4 Novel that fascinated Dumas, France, Maupassant and Gide
    • 5 Epitaph
  • 5 Sources


His first appearance was under the name D’Exiles de Prévost, in a letter to the Amsterdam booksellers in 1731. His father, Lievin Prevost, was a lawyer, and several family members had embraced ecclesiastical property.


Prevost was educated at the Hesdin Jesuit school , and in 1713 a novice of order returned to Paris , while simultaneously pursuing his studies at the university at La Flèche . At the end of 1716 he left the Jesuits to join the army, but soon tired of military life, and returned to Paris in 1719, apparently with the idea of ​​resuming his novitiate.


He is said to have traveled to the Netherlands approximately this time; in any case he returned the army, this time with a commission. Some biographers have assumed that he suffered some of the misfortunes assigned to his hero Des Grieux . He united the community of the Benedictines of Saint Maur with whom he found refuge, after the unfortunate termination of a love affair. He made his vows to Jumièges in 1721 after a year’s novitiate, in 1726 the orders of a priest took St Germer de Flaix . He spent seven years in the various houses of the order, teaching, preaching and studying. In 1728 he was in the Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés, Paris where he was engaged in Gallia Christiana , the wise work undertaken by the monks in the continuation of the works of Denys de Sainte Marthe who had been a member of his order. His restless spirit made him seek from the pope a transfer to the easier rule of Cluny , but he left the abbey without the license in 1728, learned that his superiors had obtained a letter from the seal against him, fled to England .

In England and France

In London he acquired a broad knowledge of English history and literature, as can be seen from his writings. Before leaving Prevost to the Benedictines his most famous novel, the Mémoires et adventures d’un homme del qualité qui s’est retiré du monde , he had perhaps begun the first four volumes of which it was published in Paris in 1728, and two years later in Amsterdam . In 1729 he left England for the Netherlands where he began to publish ( Utrecht , 1731) a novel, material from which, at least, had been collected in London , Le anglais de Philosophe , orHistoire de Monsieur Cleveland , Naturel de la fils de Cromwell , Lui-même de equivalence de écrite , Traduite del et del l’anglais (Paris 1731-1739), 8 vols., But most of the existing collections are made a part of Paris and elsewhere Utrecht. A spurious fifth volume (Utrecht, 1734) contained the attacks on the Jesuits, and an English translation appeared in 1734.

Meanwhile, he engaged in a translation of your History during his residency in The Hague , and, relying on the popularity of his first book, published in Amsterdam, published a collection in three volumes, forming volumes v, vI, and vII of the Memoires. et adventures d’un homme original del qualité . The seventh volume contained the famous Manon Lescaut , separately published in Paris in 1731 as du de Histoire Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut . The book was avidly read, mainly in pirated copies, being banned in France. He left The Hague and went to London in the company of a lady whose character, according to Prevost’s enemies, was doubtful in 1733.

In London he revised a weekly gazette in the Joseph Addison Spectator model , Le Pour contre del et which he continued to produce, at short intervals, until 1740.

In the fall of 1734 Prevost was reconciled to the Benedictines , and, returning to France , was received at the Benedictine monastery of La Croix Saint Leufroy in the diocese of Évreux to go through a new, however formless, novitiate . In 1735 he was distributed from the residence in a monastery becoming the almoner to the Prince of Conti , and in 1754 the priory of Saint Georges obtained from Gesnes . He continued to produce novels and translations from English, and, with the exception of a brief exile (1741-1742) spent in Brussels and Frankfort, he resided for the most part to Chantilly .


He dies on November 25, 1763, it took place suddenly while he was walking in the nearby woods. The cause of his death was the rupture of an aneurysm. The crime and disaster stories were related to Prevost by his enemies, and he diligently repeated it, but it appears to be false. He died as prior of Saint Georges de Gesnes .

The Church and her lover Lenki

It seems to be, as circumstances prove, that his religious practice was not the result of an authentic vocation, but an attempt to channel his existence, whose rigidities were incompatible in a free spirit like his. In 1730 the episode that in all probability inspired the writing of the ” History of the Knight Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut ” took place, when he met in Holland a whimsical and dominating woman known simply as Lenki, who ended up causing him ruin, having to leave for England fleeing from his creditors.

Later, as if it were a circular existence, Prevost resumed his ecclesiastical career and returned soon after to the arms of his beloved Lenki.


  • History of the knight Des Grieux
  • Manon Lescaut(1734).
  • Dean of Killerine
  • General history of travel
  • Likewise, he translated Samuel Richardson’s novels into French
  • Les Aventures de Pomponius, chevalier romain(1724).
  • Histoire de Marguerite d’Anjou(1740).
  • Mémoires pour serve à l’histoire de Malte(1741).
  • Campagnes philosophiques(1741).
  • Le Monde moral, ou Mémoires pour ser à l’history du cœur humain(1760).
  • Memories and adventures of a man of quality(1728).

References about his novels

From Louis XIV to the Regency of Felipe de Orleans

The last years of Louis XIV’s reign had been an austere and almost Puritan era in France . His death in 1715 was followed by an era (the Regency of Philip of Orleans ), with much more relaxed customs, where Paris became the capital of gambling and prostitution. The matrimonial institution no longer seems so sacred and noble and bourgeois proudly display their lovers. This environment was the seed of ” Manon Lescaut “, first published in 1731, a narration that perfectly describes the atmosphere of the time.

Manon Lescaut as part of “Memories of a quality man”

The Abate Prevost novel is above all the story of a passion as ardent as it is devouring. In reality ” Manon Lescault ” is not an independent novel , but is part of a much larger cycle, that of his autobiography , published under the title ” Memories of a quality man “. The publication of a novel that explicitly alluded to the sex demon caused a great scandal when it was published in 1733 in Paris. The kidnapping of the edition after being officially condemned, only increased its fame.

The knight Des Grieux bewitched by love: from noble to rogue

The story starts from a typically literary procedure: the Abbé Prevost tells a story that he was told and thus gives voice to the gentleman Des Grieux , the true narrator of his own misadventures. Des Grieux is a very studious young man, from a good family, whose future seems to be very bright, until on his way he crosses the beautiful Manon Lescaut . The love between the two young people arises from the first moment and they run away. She is a somewhat insane young woman, who does not even care to flirt with other men to get money, who takes love as a very fun game.

From that moment on, Des Grieux’s life changes completely: circumstances make him noble and innocent, he turns into a rogue and performs actions that in the past he would have considered ignoble: stealing, cheating, gambling and even killing, all in after his love, a feeling that separates him from his family, from his destiny, from the assurances of his previous life in exchange for an existence full of insecurities and shocks, but that brings him something that he considers much more important, just as reasons with his friend Tiberge: “Surely they will still answer me that there are many penalties in the exercise of good, but that they are not infallible or necessary; that there are no more tyrants or crosses and that there are many virtuous people leading a peaceful and calm life. I will also answer that there are also peaceful and fortunate loves, and, which makes a difference in my favor, I will add that love, even when it deceives us frequently, at least produces satisfactions and joys, while religion tries to make people stick to it. sad and mortifying practices. “(…) Affirm, if you want, that the delights of love are temporary, that they are prohibited, that they will be punished with eternal penalties, and, what will still impress me more, that the more beautiful and sweet be, with greater magnificence will heaven reward such a great sacrifice;but confess that with hearts such as we have, those below constitute our fullest happiness. ”

Novel that fascinated Dumas, France, Maupassant and Gide

” Manon Lescaut ” is a novel that has fascinated writers of different generations such as Alejandro Dumas (son), Anatole France , Guy de Maupassant or André Gide for its simple, narratively impeccable style. In addition, it is a story in which we can find reminiscences of genres such as the picaresque novel , since lovers survive on many occasions thanks to their ingenuity and the Byzantine novel , because the love of Manon and Des Grieux, love not socially accepted, has to pass serious tests to be able to consolidate.

A love that compensates all the penalties. Despite the bitterness that underlies the story due to the hardships lovers must face, in the end, as Prevost writes, “love is stronger than abundance, stronger than treasures and riches” . Surely, if Des Grieux were asked, he would answer that he would live it all the way it was, because in those years he brought his existence to its fullness.


His epitaph could be a phrase of his authorship:

Love: a game in which there are two who lose: the man and the woman, and only one who wins: the species.


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