Great changes were on the horizon. It was the end of March 1789. The Estates General had been summoned by King Louis XVI, and the forty “Immortals” of the Académie française gathered in an “secret extraordinary session” to decide what steps to take with respect to the historic assembly that would soon begin.
In the eyes of the Perpetual Secretary, Jean-François Marmontel (1723-1799), their very honor as academicians was at stake, for the silence they had kept up to that point had been interpreted “as a guilty lack of concern, or as humiliating incompetence.”
– The Postcolonialist