"elegant literature, looks," 1710, French, actually "fine letters," from belles, plural of belle, fem. of beau "fine, breathtaking" (see beau) + lettres, plural of lettre "letter" (see page (n.)). The literary same in principle as beaux-arts.
creative writing appreciated for esthetic content
- courteous or elegant literature; the humanities; -- utilized notably vaguely for literary works for which imagination and taste tend to be prevalent.
(n. pl.) Polite or elegant literature; the humanities; -- utilized somewhat vaguely for literary works which imagination and style tend to be predominant.
A last attempt to live at Geneva, made at the request of relatives there, satisfied him that the theological atmosphere was uncongenial, and in 1684 he finally settled at Amsterdam, first as a moderately successful preacher, until ecclesiastical jealousy shut him out from that career, and afterwards as professor of philosophy, belles-lettres and Hebrew in the Remonstrant seminary.