belles-lettres love

Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n.pl. Literature regarded for its aesthetic value rather than its didactic or informative content.
  • n.pl. Light, stylish writings, usually on literary or intellectual subjects.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. literary works valued more for their aesthetic qualities than for any informative or educational content

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. Polite or elegant literature; the humanities; -- used somewhat vaguely for literary works in which imagination and taste are predominant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Polite or elegant literature: a word of somewhat indefinite application, including poetry, fiction, and other imaginative literature, and the studies and criticism connected therewith; literature regarded as a form of fine art.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. creative writing valued for esthetic content
  • n. creative writing valued for esthetic content

Etymologies

French : belles, fine + lettres, letters, literature.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It has also given us some wild cards, unexpected treats that belong on the shelf once labeled belles-lettres but now more commonly known (thanks to Dave Eggers's annual paperback anthologies) as nonrequired reading.

    Book Review Roundup

  • Throughout her life, Bracha Habas sought also to engage in belles-lettres.

    Bracha Habas.

  • American scholarly trends, steering their students away from popular pulp literature to belles-lettres.

    A Bibliographical Essay

  • London's The Call of the Wild and White Fang are listed as books for youth whereas Martin Eden is belles-lettres or "fine literature."

    A Bibliographical Essay

  • When a few hardy critics even write about London's stories, they carefully avoid the "kiddy lit" and focus exclusively on London's belles-lettres: Adventure, Burning Daylight, John Barleycorn, The

    A Bibliographical Essay

  • The standard by which all of belles-lettres are to be judged.

    Crit List 7: Let The Parade Of Sleaze Begin -- The Fungus and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

  • This is the mistake of believing that experience can be absorbed, both understood and expressed, wholly in literature; and in literature, moreover, which is reduced to belles-lettres prose fiction, poetry, drama, and literary criticism.

    Archive 2009-09-01

  • By Gissing's late-Victorian day, the street's name had been changed, but the phrase "Grub Street" still conjured a world of shabby belles-lettres.

    Books on Reputation

  • One gentleman was a deep philologist — he talked with him on the origin of the alphabet as if he had been coeval with Cadmus; another a celebrated critic, — you would have said the old man had studied political economy and belles-lettres all his life, — of science it is unnecessary to speak, it was his own distinguished walk.

    The Monastery

  • No one is under an obligation to read poetry or fiction or the miscellaneous literature which is classed as belles-lettres.

    Live from the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit

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