The academy's members include such well-known writers as Henri Troyat, Marguerite Yourcenar, Julien Green, Eugene Ionesco, Claude Levi-Strauss and Leopold Senghor. Some of the best-known names in French literary history were members, including La Fontaine, Voltaire, Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand and Paul Valery. Other well-known writers, among them Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola and Marcel Proust, were never admitted.
Druon said that a committee of 10 members of the academy works continually on defining words. The committee's definitions are then submitted to the full academy for approval by majority vote. "There are never any abstentions," Druon said.
The academy sees no need to rush its work. Druon, who also wrote the preface to the new edition of the dictionary, said: "Some expressions born in the last rain disappear with the next drought. . . . It is necessary to wait to recognize those that continue to have daily use."