There are probably few ideas as problematic and old as that of "genius". Since the nineteenth century, this notion has been increasingly used to describe the exceptional individual, a meaning that is only recorded in the Dictionary of the Académie Française in 1835. Before that, in the belles-lettres of the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea of "genius" was still dependent on the Latin genius and ingenium. It can in fact be understood in three ways: in accordance with genius, genius can refer to a god, a spirit or a demon who watches over a person or who "presides over certain places"; in the line of ingenium, it can mean either the disposition, the character of an individual or of a language, or the talent of a person. It is on these last two meanings that our project focuses mainly, but the question of the supernatural will occasionally enlighten our discussions.
Sache GRANGEAN,Maxime JEBAR, Madeleine SAVART and Élisabeth VUILLEMIN