A Guide to French Literature: From Early Modern to by Jennifer Birkett

By Jennifer Birkett

This entire new consultant maps the heritage of French literature from Rabelais to Koltes. performs, poetry, and prose via the good writers of the French literary culture are mentioned along paintings recovered from canonical margins through new scholarship and varied serious views. contains up to date bibliographies.

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His Le Siecle de Louis XW (1751) is in this respect a Utopian fiction of enlightened despotism. 1 With the systematic incorporation by Richelieu and then Mazarin of the nation's resources into the apparatus of a centralised State, embodied in the King at Versailles, culture became even more overtly a matter of public interest. 2 His policies fuelled a lucrative pamphlet war, in which he employed his own writers. Theophraste Renaudot, editor of the first Paris weekly, La Gazette (founded 1 April 1631), openly served the interests of Cardinal and King.

His subjugation of noble conspiracies, including those mounted by the King's mother, was complicated by Huguenot rebellions which only ended with the final capitulation of La Rochelle in 1628. The late 1630s saw a period of major financial and military crisis, with taxation increased to record levels to finance the Thirty Years War (1618-48). In 1642, as the English King Charles confronted his Parliamentary challengers on the battlefield, Richelieu's death conferred power on his deputy, Mazarin.

Nor did they leave the theatre with the resolve to damp down ardour and ambition in the interests of a quiet life. Audiences, in his view, wanted to wonder at extreme characters like his own, historical exceptions, whose vices and virtues were dazzlingly different. If Aristotle really did argue the doctrine attributed to him, it was only because he was writing in a political context in which art had to present itself as a bastion of public order. Racine's published formulations were more diplomatic, and limited to his prefaces (his private marginal comments on his own copy of Aristotle's Poetics were published in 1951 as Principes de la tragedie).

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