In Absolutist Attachments, Chloé Hogg uncovers the affective and media connections that shaped Louis XIV’s absolutism. Studying literature, painting, engravings, correspondence, and the emerging periodic press, Hogg diagnoses the emotions that created absolutism’s feeling subjects and publics.
Louis XIV’s subjects explored new kinds of affective relations with their sovereign, joining with the king in acts of aesthetic judgment, tender feeling, or the “newsiness” of emerging print news culture. Such alternative modes of adhesion countered the hegemonic model of kingship upheld by divine right, reason of state, or corporate fidelities and privileges with subject-driven attachments and practices. Absolutist Attachments discovers absolutism’s alternative political and cultural legacy—not the spectacle of an unbound king but the binding connections of his subjects.
At Play in the Tavern is a lively study of the tavern, inn, and brothel in the literature of medieval France. Cowell's original treatment of the medieval tavern as a counterpoint to orthodox institutions considers such delicious transgressions as drinking, gambling, prostitution, theft, usury, and "foile" (a peculiar combination of madness and sinfulness). This innovative study of both market-place values and literary culture unveils a raucous culture opposed to the dominant models of society coming out of the Augustinian tradition. Cowell contrasts the literary domains of the carnal and the orthodox and innovatively assigns physical space to each. The literature of the tavern is shown to represent the possibility of escape from ecclesiastical models of economic and literary exchange that insisted on equality, utility, and charity by offering a vision of exuberant excess. Cowell concludes that drama, poetry, and other secular texts, when considered as a whole, are ultimately complicit in a revolution favoring an ethic of profit.
Drawing on recent work in medieval literature, history, popular culture, gender studies, and sign theory, Andrew Cowell employs a wide range of traditional and, until now, little known sources to show the unity and importance of a countercultural literary mode.
Andrew Cowell is Assistant Professor, Department of French and Italian, University of Colorado at Boulder.
Wallace Fowlie describes his book as "not as much a memoir-autobiography as Journal of Rehearsals, but a reconstruction of events and thoughts that have formed me. The life of each man: a myth. The effort of each writer: to give meaning to his myth."
In Aubade: A Teacher's Notebook Fowlie writes at length of his life as a teacher at Duke University, his friendships with students and colleagues, his appreciation of movies, plays, travels, friends and books he has enjoyed and that have enhanced his life. This is an account of the life of a dedicated teacher who is also a writer-critic. Fowlie assesses his own sense of identity and the manner in which he transmits the values his studies have for him to his students through major literary texts. Aubade delineates Fowlies discovery, via his students, of the forms of a new culture arising alongside the old, which he integrates into his own intellectual life, broadening its horizons.
Bad objects are a contrarian’s delight. In this volume, leading French feminist theorist and literary critic Naomi Schor revisits some of feminist theory’s most widely discredited objects, essentialism and universalism, with surprising results. Bilingual and bicultural, she reveals the national character of contemporary theories that are usually received as beyond borders, while making a strong argument for feminist theory’s specific claims to universalism. Written in a distinctive personal and self-reflective mode, this collection offers new unpublished work and brings together for the first time some of Schor’s best-known and most influential essays. These engagements with Anglo-American feminist theory, Freud and psychoanalytic theory, French poststructuralists such as Barthes, Foucault, and Irigaray, and French fiction by or about women—especially of the nineteenth century—also address such issues as bilingual identity, professional controversies, female fetishism, and literature and gender. Schor then concludes with a provocative meditation on the future of feminism. As they read Bad Objects, Anglo-American theoreticians who have been mainly preoccupied with French feminism will find themselves drawn into French literary and cultural history, while French literary critics and historians will be placed in contact with feminist debate.
"Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French is a brilliant and altogether convincing analysis of the way in which Western writers, from Homer to the twentieth century have . . . imposed their language of desire on the least-known part of the world and have called it 'Africa.' There are excellent readings here of writers ranging from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Sade, and Céline to Conrad and Yambo Ouologuem, but even more impressive and important than these individual readings is Mr. Miller's wide-ranging, incisive, and exact analysis of 'Africanist' discourse, what it has been and what it has meant in the literature of the Western world."—James Olney, Louisiana State University
Capital Letters sheds new light on how literature has dealt with society’s most violent legal institution, the death penalty. It investigates this question through the works of three major French authors with markedly distinct political convictions and literary styles: Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, and Albert Camus. Working at the intersection of poetics, ethics, and law, Ève Morisi uncovers an unexpected transhistorical dialogue on both the modern death penalty and the ends and means of literature after the French Revolution. Through close textual analysis, careful contextualization, and the critique of violence forged by Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, and René Girard, Morisi reveals that, despite their differences, Hugo, Baudelaire, and Camus converged in questioning France’s humanitarian redefinition of capital punishment dating from the late eighteenth century. Conversely, capital justice led all three writers to interrogate the functions, tools, and limits of their art. Capital Letters shows that the key modern debate on the political and moral responsibility, or autonomy, of literature crystallizes around the death penalty in works whose form disturbs the commonly accepted divide between aestheticism and engagement.
Keith L. Walker traverses the traditionally imposed boundaries of geography and race as he examines the literary culture produced by French speakers and writers born outside France. Focusing on the commonalities revealed in their shared language and colonial history, Walker examines for the first time the work of six writers who, while artistically distinct and geographically scattered, share complex sensibilities regarding their own relationship to France and the French language and, as he demonstrates, produce a counterdiscourse to their colonizers’ modern literary traditions. Martinique, French Guyana, Senegal, Morocco, and Haiti serve as the stage for the struggle these writers have faced with French language and culture, a struggle influenced by the legacy of Aimé Césaire. In his stand against the modernist principles of Charles Baudelaire, Walker argues, Césaire has become the preeminent francophone countermodernist. A further examination of the relationships between Césaire and the writers Léon Gontron Damas, Mariama Bâ, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ken Bugul, and Gérard Étienne forms the core of the book and leads to Walker’s characterization of francophone literature as having “slipped the knot,” or escaped the snares of the familiar binary oppositions of modernism. Instead, he discovers in these writers a shared consciousness rooted in an effort to counter and denounce modernist humanist discourse and pointing toward a new subjectivity formed through the negotiation of an alternative modernity. Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture will engage readers interested in French literature and in postcolonial, Caribbean, African, American, and francophone studies.
Joseph Bédier (1864-1938) was one of the most famous scholars of his day. He held prestigious posts and lectured throughout Europe and the United States, an activity unusual for an academic of his time. A scholar of the French Middle Ages, he translated Tristan and Isolde as well as France's national epic, The Song of Roland. Bédier was publicly committed to French hegemony, yet he hailed from a culture that belied this ideal-the island of Réunion in the southern Indian Ocean.
In Creole Medievalism, Michelle Warren demonstrates that Bédier's relationship to this multicultural and economically peripheral colony motivates his nationalism in complex ways. Simultaneously proud of his French heritage and nostalgic for the island, Bédier defends French sovereignty based on an ambivalent resistance to his creole culture. Warren shows that in the early twentieth century, influential intellectuals from Réunion helped define the new genre of the "colonial novel," adopting a pro-colonial spirit that shaped both medieval and Francophone studies. Probing the work of a once famous but little understood cultural figure, Creole Medievalism illustrates how postcolonial France and Réunion continue to grapple with histories too varied to meet expectations of national unity.
What is the body? How was it culturally constructed, conceived, and cultivated before and after the advent of rationalism and modern science? This interdisciplinary study elaborates a cultural genealogy of the body and its legacies to modernity by tracing its crucial redefinition from a live anatomical entity to disembodied, mechanical and virtual analogs.
The study ranges from Baroque, pre-Cartesian interpretations of body and embodiment, to the Cartesian elaboration of ontological difference and mind-body dualism, and it concludes with the parodic and violent aftermath of this legacy to the French Enlightenment. It engages work by philosophical authors such as Montaigne, Descartes and La Mettrie, as well as literary works by d'Urfé, Corneille and the Marquis de Sade. The examination of sexuality and the emergence of sexual difference as a dominant mode of embodiment are central to the book's overall design. The work is informed by philosophical accounts of the body (Nietzsche, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty), by feminist theory (Butler, Irigaray, Bordo), as well as by literary and cultural historians (Scarry, Stewart, Bynum, etc.) and historians of science (Canguilhem, Pagel, and Temkin), among others. It will appeal to scholars of literature, philosophy, French studies, critical theory, feminist theory, cultural historians and historians of science and technology.
Dalia Judovitz is Professor of French, Emory University. She is also author of Unpacking Duchamp: Art in Transit and Subjectivity and Representation in Decartes: The Origins of Modernity.
The curious paradox of romance is that, throughout its history, this genre has been dismissed as trivial and unintellectual, yet people have never ceased to flock to it with enthusiasm and even fervor. In contemporary contexts, we devour popular romance and fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones, reference them in conversations, and create online communities to expound, passionately and intelligently, upon their characters and worlds. But romance is “unrealistic,” critics say, doing readers a disservice by not accurately representing human experiences. It is considered by some to be a distraction from real literature, a distraction from real life, and little more.
Yet is it possible that romance is expressing a truth—and a truth unrecognized by realist genres? The Arthurian literature of the Middle Ages, Karen Sullivan argues, consistently ventriloquizes in its pages the criticisms that were being made of romance at the time, and implicitly defends itself against those criticisms. The Danger of Romance shows that the conviction that ordinary reality is the only reality is itself an assumption, and one that can blind those who hold it to the extraordinary phenomena that exist around them. It demonstrates that that which is rare, ephemeral, and inexplicable is no less real than that which is commonplace, long-lasting, and easily accounted for. If romance continues to appeal to audiences today, whether in its Arthurian prototype or in its more recent incarnations, it is because it confirms the perception—or even the hope—of a beauty and truth in the world that realist genres deny.
Winner of the 2004 Book Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and the 2003 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature from the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference.
Our common definition of literacy is the ability to read and write in one language. But as Margaret Ferguson reveals in Dido's Daughters, this description is inadequate, because it fails to help us understand heated conflicts over literacy during the emergence of print culture. The fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, she shows, were a contentious era of transition from Latin and other clerical modes of literacy toward more vernacular forms of speech and writing.
Fegurson's aim in this long-awaited work is twofold: to show that what counted as more valuable among these competing literacies had much to do with notions of gender, and to demonstrate how debates about female literacy were critical to the emergence of imperial nations. Looking at writers whom she dubs the figurative daughters of the mythological figure Dido—builder of an empire that threatened to rival Rome—Ferguson traces debates about literacy and empire in the works of Marguerite de Navarre, Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cary, and Aphra Behn, as well as male writers such as Shakespeare, Rabelais, and Wyatt. The result is a study that sheds new light on the crucial roles that gender and women played in the modernization of England and France.
In Enchanted Islands, renowned art historian Mary D. Sheriff explores the legendary, fictional, and real islands that filled the French imagination during the ancien regime as they appeared in royal ballets and festivals, epic literature, paintings, engravings, book illustrations, and other objects. Some of the islands were mythical and found in the most popular literary texts of the day—islands featured prominently, for instance, in Ariosto’s Orlando furioso,Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, and Fénelon’s, Telemachus. Other islands—real ones, such as Tahiti and St. Domingue—the French learned about from the writings of travelers and colonists. All of them were imagined to be the home of enchantresses who used magic to conquer heroes by promising sensual and sexual pleasure. As Sheriff shows, the theme of the enchanted island was put to many uses. Kings deployed enchanted-island mythology to strengthen monarchical authority, as Louis XIV did in his famous Versailles festival Les Plaisirs de l’île enchantée. Writers such as Fénelon used it to tell morality tales that taught virtue, duty, and the need for male strength to triumph over female weakness and seduction. Yet at the same time, artists like Boucher painted enchanted islands to portray art’s purpose as the giving of pleasure. In all these ways and more, Sheriff demonstrates for the first time the centrality of enchanted islands to ancient regime culture in a book that will enchant all readers interested in the art, literature, and history of the time.
How do literary illustrations affect the way we read—or more subtly, what we read? Through a critical investigation of the role of engraving played in eighteenth-century French literature, Philip Stewart grapples with this question. In both its approach and its conclusions, his project marks a provocative departure from the tradition of viewing illustrations as merely pictures, rather than as texts to be interpreted themselves. Focusing on the objectification of women by the “male gaze,” Stewart analyzes the varous ways in which this masculine power is simultaneously represented and veiled: the fascination with women playing “male” roles, such as soldiers; the preponderance of voyeuristic images of the naked female body; the transformation of male power into hostile forces of nature that render women helpless. Further, Stewart shows how “indecent” engravings that purported to test the limits of eighteenth-century morality often merely reinforced prevailing images of women. Addressing critical concerns about the societal enforcement of gender roles in literature along with essential questions about the function of illustration, Engraven Desire provides surprising insight into the culturally conditioned act of reading. Stewart’s work, itself richly illustrated with hundreds of arresting reproductions, makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the interplay of art, literature, and society.
"Mr. Bloch has attempted to establish what he calls a 'literary anthropology.' The project is important and ambitious. It seems to me that Mr. Bloch has completely achieved this ambition." –Michel Foucault
"Bloch's Study is a genuinely interdisciplinary one, bringing together elements of history, ethnology, philology, philosophy, economics and literature, with the undoubted ambition of generating a new synthesis which will enable us to read the Middle Ages in a different light.
Stated simply, and in terms which do justice neither to the density nor the subtlety of his argument, Bloch's thesis is this: that medieval society perceived itself in terms of a vertical mode of descent from origins. This model is articulated etymologically in medieval theories of grammar and language, and is consequently reflected in historical and theological writings; it is also latent in the genealogical structure of the aristocratic family as it began to be organized in France in the twelfth century, and is made manifest in such systems of signs as heraldry and the adoption of patronymns. . . .
It is an ingenious and compelling synthesis which no medievalist, even on this side of the Atlantic, can afford to ignore." –Nicholas Mann, Times Literary Supplement
In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
What does "America" mean to French intellectuals? Is it a postmodern ideal situated beyond history and metaphysics? A source of spiritual decadence that threatens the European tradition? Or is it "Extrême-Occident," the Far
Western site that gives historical reality to the utopias of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment?
Jean-Philippe Mathy offers the first systematic examination of French texts that address the question of America. He shows how prominent French intellectuals have represented America as myth and metaphor, covering the entire ideological spectrum from Maurras to Duhamel, and from Sartre to Aron. The texts themselves range from novels and poems to travel narratives and philosophical essays by Claudel, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Kristeva, and many others.
Mathy deftly situates these discourses on America against the background of French intellectual and political history since 1789. The judgments on American culture that originate in France, he contends, are also statements about France itself. Widespread condemnation of American
materialism and pragmatism cuts across deep ideological and political divides in France, primarily because French intellectuals still operate within a framework of critical and aesthetic models born in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and elaborated in the age of French classicism.
Mathy engages issues central to interpreting the American experience, such as the current controversies over multiculturalism and Eurocentrism. Although Mathy deals mainly with French authors, he does not limit himself to them. Rather, he uses a comparative, cross-cultural approach that also takes in accounts of America by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Junger, Gramsci, and other Europeans, as well as American self-interpretations from Emerson and Dewey to Cornel West and Christopher Lasch.
Because debates on American modernity have played a crucial intellectual role in France, Extrême-Occident is a major contribution to modern French cultural
history. It will be essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the main currents of twentieth-century French thought.
Considering Sappho as a creature of translation and interpretation, a figment whose features have changed with social mores and aesthetics, Joan DeJean constructs a fascinating history of the sexual politics of literary reception. The association of Sappho with female homosexuality has made her a particularly compelling and yet problematic subject of literary speculation; and in the responses of different cultures to the challenge the poet presents, DeJean finds evidence of the standards imposed on female sexuality through the ages. She focuses largely though not exclusively on the French tradition, where the Sapphic presence is especially pervasive. Tracing re-creations of Sappho through translation and fiction from the mid-sixteenth century to the period just prior to World War II, DeJean shows how these renderings reflect the fantasies and anxieties of each writer as well as the mentalité of his or her day.
From floating barges of urban refuse to dung-encrusted works of art, from toxic landfills to dirty movies, filth has become a major presence and a point of volatile contention in modern life. This book explores the question of what filth has to do with culture: what critical role the lost, the rejected, the abject, and the dirty play in social management and identity formation. It suggests the ongoing power of culturally mandated categories of exclusion and repression.Focusing on filth in literary and cultural materials from London, Paris, and their colonial outposts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the essays in Filth, all but one previously unpublished, range over topics as diverse as the building of sewers in nineteenth-century European metropolises, the link between interior design and bourgeois sanitary phobias, fictional representations of laboring women and foreigners as polluting, and relations among disease, disorder, and sexual-racial disharmony. Filth provides the first sustained consideration, both theoretical and historical, of a subject whose power to horrify, fascinate, and repel is as old as civilization itself.Contributors: David S. Barnes, U of Pennsylvania; Neil Blackadder, Knox College; Joseph Bristow, U of California, Los Angeles; Joseph W. Childers, U of California, Riverside; Eileen Cleere, Southwestern U; Natalka Freeland, U of California, Irvine; Pamela K. Gilbert, U of Florida; Christopher Hamlin, U of Notre Dame; William Kupinse, U of Puget Sound; Benjamin Lazier, U of Chicago; David L. Pike, American U; David Trotter, U of Cambridge.William A. Cohen is associate professor of English at the University of Maryland and the author of Sex Scandal: The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction.Ryan Johnson is completing his Ph.D. in the Department of English at Stanford University, where he has served as general editor of the Stanford Humanities Review.
The French slave trade forced more than one million Africans across the Atlantic to the islands of the Caribbean. It enabled France to establish Saint-Domingue, the single richest colony on earth, and it connected France, Africa, and the Caribbean permanently. Yet the impact of the slave trade on the cultures of France and its colonies has received surprisingly little attention. Until recently, France had not publicly acknowledged its history as a major slave-trading power. The distinguished scholar Christopher L. Miller proposes a thorough assessment of the French slave trade and its cultural ramifications, in a broad, circum-Atlantic inquiry. This magisterial work is the first comprehensive examination of the French Atlantic slave trade and its consequences as represented in the history, literature, and film of France and its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.
Miller offers a historical introduction to the cultural and economic dynamics of the French slave trade, and he shows how Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu and Voltaire mused about the enslavement of Africans, while Rousseau ignored it. He follows the twists and turns of attitude regarding the slave trade through the works of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century French writers, including Olympe de Gouges, Madame de Staël, Madame de Duras, Prosper Mérimée, and Eugène Sue. For these authors, the slave trade was variously an object of sentiment, a moral conundrum, or an entertaining high-seas “adventure.” Turning to twentieth-century literature and film, Miller describes how artists from Africa and the Caribbean—including the writers Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, and Edouard Glissant, and the filmmakers Ousmane Sembene, Guy Deslauriers, and Roger Gnoan M’Bala—have confronted the aftermath of France’s slave trade, attempting to bridge the gaps between silence and disclosure, forgetfulness and memory.
History is a love story: a tale of desire and jealousy, abandonment and fidelity, abduction and theft, rupture and reconciliation. This contention is central to Grafting Helen, Matthew Gumpert's original and dazzling meditation on Helen of Troy as a crucial anchor for much of Western thought and literature. Grafting Helen looks at "classicism"—the privileged rhetorical language for describing cultural origins in the West—as a protracted form of cultural embezzlement. No coin in the realm has been more valuable, more circulated, more coveted, or more counterfeited than the one that bears the face of Helen of Troy. Gumpert uncovers Helen as the emblem for the past as something to be stolen, appropriated, imitated, extorted, and coveted once again.
Tracing the figure of Helen from its classical origins through the Middle Ages, the French Renaissance, and the modern era, Gumpert suggests that the relation of current Western culture to the past is not like the act of coveting; it is the act of coveting, he argues, for it relies on the same strategies, the same defenses, the same denials, and the same delusions.
The classical period in France presents a particularly lively battleground for the transition between oral-visual culture, on the one hand, and print culture on the other. The former depended on learning from sources of knowledge directly, in their presence, in a manner analogous to theatrical experience. The latter became characterized by the distance and abstraction of reading. How Do I Know Thee? explores the ways in which literature, philosophy, and psychology approach social cognition, or how we come to know others. Richard E. Goodkin describes a central opposition between what he calls “theatrical cognition” and “narrative cognition,” drawing both on scholarship on literary genre and mode, and also on the work of a number of philosophers and psychologists, in particular Descartes’s theory of cognition, Freudian psychoanalysis, mid-twentieth-century behaviorism, and the field of cognitive science. The result is a study that will be of interest not only to students of the classical period but also to those in the corresponding disciplines.
Writing a new page in the surprisingly long history of literary deceit, Impostors examines a series of literary hoaxes, deceptions that involved flagrant acts of cultural appropriation. This book looks at authors who posed as people they were not, in order to claim a different ethnic, class, or other identity. These writers were, in other words, literary usurpers and appropriators who trafficked in what Christopher L. Miller terms the “intercultural hoax.”
In the United States, such hoaxes are familiar. Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree and JT LeRoy’s Sarah are two infamous examples. Miller’s contribution is to study hoaxes beyond our borders, employing a comparative framework and bringing French and African identity hoaxes into dialogue with some of their better-known American counterparts. In France, multiculturalism is generally eschewed in favor of universalism, and there should thus be no identities (in the American sense) to steal. However, as Miller demonstrates, this too is a ruse: French universalism can only go so far and do so much. There is plenty of otherness to appropriate. This French and Francophone tradition of imposture has never received the study it deserves. Taking a novel approach to this understudied tradition, Impostors examines hoaxes in both countries, finding similar practices of deception and questions of harm.
In medieval literature, when humans and animals meet—whether as friends or foes—issues of mastery and submission are often at stake. In the Skin of a Beast shows how the concept of sovereignty comes to the fore in such narratives, reflecting larger concerns about relations of authority and dominion at play in both human-animal and human-human interactions.
Peggy McCracken discusses a range of literary texts and images from medieval France, including romances in which animal skins appear in symbolic displays of power, fictional explorations of the wolf’s desire for human domestication, and tales of women and snakes converging in a representation of territorial claims and noble status. These works reveal that the qualities traditionally used to define sovereignty—lineage and gender among them—are in fact mobile and contingent. In medieval literary texts, as McCracken demonstrates, human dominion over animals is a disputed model for sovereign relations among people: it justifies exploitation even as it mandates protection and care, and it depends on reiterations of human-animal difference that paradoxically expose the tenuous nature of human exceptionalism.
A bestseller in France following its publication in 1999, Insult and the Making of the Gay Self is an extraordinary set of reflections on “the gay question” by Didier Eribon, one of France’s foremost public intellectuals. Known internationally as the author of a pathbreaking biography of Michel Foucault, Eribon is a leading voice in French gay studies. In explorations of gay subjectivity as it is lived now and as it has been expressed in literary history and in the life and work of Foucault, Eribon argues that gay male politics, social life, and culture are transformative responses to an oppressive social order. Bringing together the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, and Erving Goffman, he contends that gay culture and political movements flow from the need to overcome a world of insult in the process of creating gay selves.
Eribon describes the emergence of homosexual literature in Britain and France at the turn of the last century and traces this new gay discourse from Oscar Wilde and the literary circles of late-Victorian Oxford to André Gide and Marcel Proust. He asserts that Foucault should be placed in a long line of authors—including Wilde, Gide, and Proust—who from the nineteenth century onward have tried to create spaces in which to resist subjection and reformulate oneself. Drawing on his unrivaled knowledge of Foucault’s oeuvre, Eribon presents a masterful new interpretation of Foucault. He calls attention to a particular passage from Madness and Civilization that has never been translated into English. Written some fifteen years before The History of Sexuality, this passage seems to contradict Foucault’s famous idea that homosexuality was a late-nineteenth-century construction. Including an argument for the use of Hannah Arendt’s thought in gay rights advocacy, Insult and the Making of the Gay Self is an impassioned call for critical, active engagement with the question of how gay life is shaped both from without and within.
An engaging and challenging introduction to Jean Genet, this concise biography of the French writer and his work cuts directly to the intersection of thought and life that was essential to Genet's creativity. Arguing that Genet's life was an extraordinary spectacle in which the themes of his most revolutionary works were played out, Stephen Barber gives both the work and its singular inspiration in Genet's life their full due.
Abandoned, arrested, and repeatedly incarcerated, Genet, who died in 1986, led a life that could best be described as a tour of the underworld of the twentieth century.
Similarly, Genet's work is recognized by its nearly obsessive and often savage treatment of certain recurring themes. Sex, desire, death, oppression, domination-these ideas, central to Genet's artistic project, can be seen as preoccupations that arose directly from the artist's travels, imprisonments, sexual and emotional relationships, and political engagements and protests. This trenchant volume focuses directly on the moments in Genet's life in which those preoccupations are vividly projected in his novels, theater works, and film projects.
Genet's works have been hugely influential for a vast array of writers, filmmakers, choreographers, and directors, especially at moments of social crisis; thus Genet's life is not only at the root of his own work but also that of many important artists of the twentieth century. With its frank and illuminating introduction by Edmund White, Jean Genet gives readers access to this brilliant and brutal mind.
Legislating the French Family examines family law reform in France from the foundation of the Third Republic in 1870 to the aftermath of World War I in 1920. Combining literary and historical approaches, Jean Elisabeth Pedersen provides a unique perspective on the political culture of modern France, analyzing French "problem" plays and their reception both as a measure of public opinion and as a force for social change. This new approach reveals the complex cultural narratives within, against, and in spite of which feminists, journalists, medical experts, playwrights, and politicians contended. Pedersen’s work demonstrates how republican political debates over divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and birth control both provoked and responded to larger arguments about the meanings of French citizenship, national identity, and imperial expansion. She argues that these debates complicated the idea of French citizenship, exposed the myth of the supposedly ungendered individual citizen, and reveal to us the intricate intersections among conflicts over family law, sexual politics, class structure, religious belief, republican citizenship, national identity, and imperial policy.
The Medieval Imagination
Jacques Le Goff University of Chicago Press, 1988 Library of Congress PQ155.M27L413 1988 | Dewey Decimal 840.915
To write this history of the imagination, Le Goff has recreated the mental structures of medieval men and women by analyzing the images of man as microcosm and the Church as mystical body; the symbols of power such as flags and oriflammes; and the contradictory world of dreams, marvels, devils, and wild forests.
"Le Goff is one of the most distinguished of the French medieval historians of his generation . . . he has exercised immense influence."—Maurice Keen, New York Review of Books
"The whole book turns on a fascinating blend of the brutally materialistic and the generously imaginative."—Tom Shippey, London Review of Books
"The richness, imaginativeness and sheer learning of Le Goff's work . . . demand to be experienced."—M. T. Clanchy, Times Literary Supplement
Never Say I reveals the centrality of representations of sexuality, and particularly same-sex sexual relations, to the evolution of literary prose forms in twentieth-century France. Rethinking the social and literary innovation of works by Marcel Proust, André Gide, and Colette, Michael Lucey considers these writers’ production of a first-person voice in which matters related to same-sex sexuality could be spoken of. He shows how their writings and careers took on political and social import in part through the contribution they made to the representation of social groups that were only slowly coming to be publicly recognized. Proust, Gide, and Colette helped create persons and characters, points of view, and narrative practices from which to speak and write about, for, or as people attracted to those of the same sex.
Considering novels along with journalism, theatrical performances, correspondences, and face-to-face encounters, Lucey focuses on the interlocking social and formal dimensions of using the first person. He argues for understanding the first person not just as a grammatical category but also as a collectively produced social artifact, demonstrating that Proust’s, Gide’s, and Colette’s use of the first person involved a social process of assuming the authority to speak about certain issues, or on behalf of certain people. Lucey reveals these three writers as both practitioners and theorists of the first person; he traces how, when they figured themselves or other first persons in certain statements regarding same-sex identity, they self-consciously called attention to the creative effort involved in doing so.
New Critical Essays
Roland Barthes Northwestern University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PQ139.B3213 2009 | Dewey Decimal 840.9
New Critical gathers Roland Barthes's essays on classic texts of French literature, works by La Rochefoucauld, Chateaubriand, Proust, Flaubert, Fromentin, and Lori. Like an artist sketching, Barthes in these essays is working out the more fascinating details of his larger theories.
In the innocuously names "Proust and Names" and "Flaubert and Sentences," Barthes explores the relation of the author to writing that begins his transition to his later thought. In his studies of La Rochefoucauld's maxims and the illustrative plates of the Encyclopedia, Barthes reveals new vistas on common cultural artifacts, while "Where to Begin?" offers a glimpse into his own analytical processes. The concluding essays on Fromentin and Loti show the breadth of Barthes's inquiry. As a whole, the essays demonstrate both the acuity and freshness of Barthes's critical mind and the gracefulness of his own use of language.
In this study of modernist aesthetics, Beryl Schlossman reveals how for such writers as Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, and Charles Baudelaire, the Orient came to symbolize the highest aspirations of literary representation. She demonstrates that through allegory, modernism became a style itself, a style that married the ancient and the modern and that emerged as both a cause and an effect, both an ideal construct and an textual materiality, all symbolized by the Orient—land of style, place of plurality, and site of the coexistence of holy lands. Toward the end of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator describes the act of creating a work of art as a conversion of sensation into a spiritual equivalent. By means of such allegories of “conversion,” Schlossman shows, the modernist artist disappeared within the work of art and left behind the trace of his sublime vocation, a vocation in which he was transformed, in Schlossman’s words, “into a kind of priest kneeling at the altar of beauty before the masked divinity of representation.” The author shows how allegory—the representation of the symbolic as something real—was adapted by modernist writers to reflect subjectivity while masking an authorial origin. She reveals how modernist allegory arose, as Walter Benjamin suggests, at the crossroads of history, sociology, economics, urban architecture, and art—providing a kind of map of capitalism—and was produced through the eyes of a melancholic gazing at a “monument of absence.”
Palace of Books
Roger Grenier University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress PQ2613.R4323P3513 2014 | Dewey Decimal 844.914
For decades, French writer, editor, and publisher Roger Grenier has been enticing readers with compact, erudite books that draw elegant connections between the art of living and the work of art. Under Grenier’s wry gaze, clichés crumble, and offbeat anecdotes build to powerful insights.
With Palace of Books, he invites us to explore the domain of literature, its sweeping vistas and hidden recesses. Engaging such fundamental questions as why people feel the need to write, or what is involved in putting one’s self on the page, or how a writer knows she’s written her last sentence, Grenier marshals apposite passages from his favorite writers: Chekhov, Baudelaire, Proust, James, Kafka, Mansfield and many others. Those writers mingle companionably with tales from Grenier’s half-century as an editor and friend to countless legendary figures, including Albert Camus, Romain Gary, Milan Kundera, and Brassai,.
Grenier offers here a series of observations and quotations that feel as spontaneous as good conversation, yet carry the lasting insights of a lifetime of reading and thinking. Palace of Books is rich with pleasures and surprises, the perfect accompaniment to old literary favorites, and the perfect introduction to new ones.
Politics, Writing, Mutilation was first published in 1985. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Five twentieth-century French writers played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in the development of literary-philosophical thinking that has come to be known in the United States as post-structuralism. The work of Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, Raymond Roussel, Michel Leiris, and Francis Ponge in the 1930s and 1940s amounts to a prehistory of today's theoretical debates; the writings of Foucault and Derrida in particular would have been unthinkable outside the context provided by these writers. In Politics, Writing, Mutilation,Allan Stoekl emphasizes their role as precursors, but he also makes clear that they created a distinctive body of work that must be read and evaluated on its own terms.
Stoekl's critical readings of their work—selected novels, poems, and autobiographical fragments—reveal them to be battlegrounds not only of disruptive language practices, but of conflicting political drives as well. These irreconcilable tendencies can be defined as progressive political revolution, on the one hand with its emphasis on utility, conservation, and labor; and, on the other hand, a notion of dangerous and sinister production that stresses orgiastic sexuality and delirious expenditure. Caught between these forces is the intellectual of Bataille's time (and indeed of ours), locked in impotence, self-betrayal, and automutilation.
Stoekl develops his critique through dual readings of each writer's central work—the first reading deconstructive, the second a search for the political meaning excluded by a deconstructive approach. Repeating this process on a larger scale, he shows how Derrida and Foucault are indebted to their precursors even while they have betrayed them by stripping their work of political conflict and historical specificity. And he acknowledges that one of the most painful questions faced in prewar and Occupied France—that of the unthinkable guilt and duplicity of the intellectual—may not be as remote from contemporary theoretical concerns as some would have us believe.
In the global imagination, Paris is the city's glamorous center, ignoring the Muslim residents in its outskirts except in moments of spectacular crisis such as terrorist attacks or riots. But colonial immigrants and their French offspring have been a significant presence in the Parisian landscape since the 1940s. Expanding the narrow script of what and who is Paris, Laila Amine explores the novels, films, and street art of Maghrebis, Franco-Arabs, and African Americans in the City of Light, including fiction by Charef, Chraïbi, Sebbar, Baldwin, Smith, and Wright, and such films as La haine, Made in France, Chouchou, and A Son.
Spanning the decades from the post–World War II era to the present day, Amine demonstrates that the postcolonial other is both peripheral to and intimately entangled with all the ideals so famously evoked by the French capital—romance, modernity, equality, and liberty. In their work, postcolonial writers and artists have juxtaposed these ideals with colonial tropes of intimacy (the interracial couple, the harem, the Arab queer) to expose their hidden violence. Amine highlights the intrusion of race in everyday life in a nation where, officially, it does not exist.
If realist novels are the literary avatars of secular science and rational progress, then why are so many canonical realist works organized around a fear of that progress? Realism is openly indebted, at the level of form and content, to imperialist and scientific advances. However, critical emphasis on this has obscured the extent to which major novelists of the period openly worried about the fate of mystery and the dissolution of tradition that accompanied science’s shrinking of the world. Realism’s modernization is inseparable from nostalgia.
In Realism’s Empire: Empiricism and Enchantment in the Nineteenth-Century Novel, Geoffrey Baker demonstrates that realist fiction’s stance toward both progress and the foreign or supernatural is much more complex than established scholarship has assumed. The work of Honoré de Balzac, Anthony Trollope, and Theodor Fontane explicitly laments the loss of mystery in the world due to increased knowledge and exploration. To counter this loss and to generate the complications required for narrative, these three authors import peripheral, usually colonial figures into the metropolitan centers they otherwise depict as disenchanted and rationalized: Paris, London, and Berlin. Baker’s book examines the consequences of this duel for realist narrative and readers’ understandings of its historical moment. In so doing, Baker shows Balzac, Trollope, and Fontane grappling with new realities that frustrate their inherited means of representation and oversee a significant shift in the development of the novel.
The concept of obscenity is an ancient one. But as Joan DeJean suggests, its modern form, the same version that today's politicians decry and savvy artists exploit, was invented in seventeenth-century France.
The Reinvention of Obscenity casts a fresh light on the mythical link between sexual impropriety and things French. Exploring the complicity between censorship, print culture, and obscenity, DeJean argues that mass market printing and the first modern censorial machinery came into being at the very moment that obscenity was being reinvented—that is, transformed from a minor literary phenomenon into a threat to society. DeJean's principal case in this study is the career of Moliére, who cannily exploited the new link between indecency and female genitalia to found his career as a print author; the enormous scandal which followed his play L'école des femmes made him the first modern writer to have his sex life dissected in the press.
Keenly alert to parallels with the currency of obscenity in contemporary America, The Reinvention of Obscenity will concern not only scholars of French history, but anyone interested in the intertwined histories of sex, publishing, and censorship.
Reproductions of Banality was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
An established fascist state has never existed in France, and after World War II there was a tendency to blame the Nazi Occupation for the presence of fascists within the country. Yet the memory of fascism within their ranks still haunts French intellectuals, and questions about a French version of fascist ideology have returned to the political forefront again and again in the years since the war. In Reproductions of Banality, Alice Yaegar Kaplan investigates the development of fascist ideology as it was manifested in the culture of prewar and Occupied France. Precisely because it existed only in a "gathering" or formative stage, and never achieved the power that brings with it a bureaucratic state apparatus, French fascism never lost its utopian, communal elements, or its consequent aesthetic appeal. Kaplan weighs this fascist aesthetic and its puzzling power of attraction by looking closely at its material remains: the narratives, slogans, newspapers, and film criticism produced by a group of writers who worked in Paris in the 1930s and early 1940s — their "most real moment."
These writers include Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Lucien Rebatat, Robert Brasillach, and Maurice Bardeche, as well as two precursors of French fascism, Georges Sorel and the Italian futurist F.T. Marinetti, who made of the airplane an industrial carrier of sexual fantasies and a prime mover in the transit from futurism to fascism. Kaplan's work is grounded in the major Marxist and psychoanalytic theories of fascism and in concepts of banality and mechanical reproduction that draw upon Walter Benjamin. Emphasizing the role played by the new technologies of sight and sound, she is able to suggest the nature of the long-repressed cultural and political climate that produced French fascism, and to show—by implication — that the mass marketing of ideology in democratic states bears a family resemblance to the fascist mode of an earlier time.
People have long imagined themselves as rooted creatures, bound to the earth—and nations—from which they came. In Rootedness, Christy Wampole looks toward philosophy, ecology, literature, history, and politics to demonstrate how the metaphor of the root—surfacing often in an unexpected variety of places, from the family tree to folk etymology to the language of exile—developed in twentieth-century Europe.
Wampole examines both the philosophical implications of this metaphor and its political evolution. From the root as home to the root as genealogical origin to the root as the past itself, rootedness has survived in part through its ability to subsume other compelling metaphors, such as the foundation, the source, and the seed. With a focus on this concept’s history in France and Germany, Wampole traces its influence in diverse areas such as the search for the mystical origins of words, land worship, and nationalist rhetoric, including the disturbing portrayal of the Jews as an unrooted, and thus unrighteous, people. Exploring the works of Martin Heidegger, Simone Weil, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Celan, and many more, Rootedness is a groundbreaking study of a figure of speech that has had wide-reaching—and at times dire—political and social consequences.
The Roving Shadows
Pascal Quignard Seagull Books, 2012 Library of Congress PQ2677.U486O6313 2011 | Dewey Decimal 844.92
There are few if any voices more distinct in contemporary French literature than that of Pascal Quignard, a prolific writer of rare erudition and elegance. Essayist, critic, translator, novelist and musician, Quignard attempts here an ambitious amalgam of his many artistic styles in a fragmentary work that defies the idea of genre. And his daring was rewarded in 2002 when The Roving Shadows became the first non-novel in more than sixty years to win the Goncourt Prize, France’s most prestigious literary award.
The first book in Quignard’s Last Kingdom series, The Roving Shadows can be read as a long meditation on reading and writing that strives to situate these otherwise innocuous activities in a profound relationship to sex and death. Writing and reading can in fact be linked to our animal natures and artistic strivings, to primal forces and culturally persistent fascinations. With dexterity and inventiveness, Quignard weaves together historical anecdotes, folktales from the East and West, fragments of myth, and speculative historical reconstructions. The whole, written in a musical style not far removed from that of Couperin, whose piano composition Les Ombres errantes lends the book its title, coheres into a work of literature that reverberates in the psyche long after one has laid it down.
The Roving Shadows is a rare and wondrous tour de force that cements Quignard’s reputation in contemporary world literature. Available now for the first time in English, this boldly adventurous work will find a new and welcoming audience.
Imagine trying to tell someone something about yourself and your desires for which there are no words. What if the mere attempt at expression was bound to misfire, to efface the truth of that ineluctable something?
In Someone, Michael Lucey considers characters from twentieth-century French literary texts whose sexual forms prove difficult to conceptualize or represent. The characters expressing these “misfit” sexualities gravitate towards same-sex encounters. Yet they differ in subtle but crucial ways from mainstream gay or lesbian identities—whether because of a discordance between gender identity and sexuality, practices specific to a certain place and time, or the fleetingness or non-exclusivity of desire. Investigating works by Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Jean Genet, and others, Lucey probes both the range of same-sex sexual forms in twentieth-century France and the innovative literary language authors have used to explore these evanescent forms.
As a portrait of fragile sexualities that involve awkward and delicate maneuvers and modes of articulation, Someone reveals just how messy the ways in which we experience and perceive sexuality remain, even to ourselves.
In Tropicopolitans Srinivas Aravamudan reconstructs the colonial imagination of the eighteenth century. By exploring representations of peoples and cultures subjected to colonial discourse, he makes a case for the agency—or the capacity to resist domination—of those oppressed. Aravamudan’s analysis of texts that accompanied European commercial and imperial expansion from the Glorious Revolution through the French Revolution reveals the development of anticolonial consciousness prior to the nineteenth century. “Tropicalization” is the central metaphor of this analysis, a term that incorporates both the construction of various dynamic tropes by which the colonized are viewed and the site of the study, primarily the tropics. Tropicopolitans, then, are those people who bear and resist the representations of colonialist discourse. In readings that expose new relationships between literary representation and colonialism in the eighteenth century, Aravamudan considers such texts as Behn’s Oroonoko, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Captain Singleton, Addison’s Cato, and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and The Drapier’s Letters. He extends his argument to include analyses of Johnson’s Rasselas, Beckford’s Vathek, Montagu’s travel letters, Equiano’s autobiography, Burke’s political and aesthetic writings, and Abbé de Raynal’s Histoire des deux Indes. Offering a radical approach to literary history, this study provides new mechanisms for understanding the development of anticolonial agency. Introducing eighteenth-century studies to a postcolonial hermeneutics, Tropicopolitans will interest scholars engaged in postcolonial studies, eighteenth-century literature, and literary theory.
In the Middle Ages, the heretic, more than any other social or religious deviant, was experienced as an imaginary construct. Everyone believed heretics existed, but no one believed himself or herself to be a heretic, even if condemned as such by representatives of the Catholic Church. Those accused of heresy, meanwhile, maintained that they were the good Christians and their accusers were the false ones.
Exploring the figure of the heretic in Catholic writings of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as well as the heretic's characterological counterpart in troubadour lyrics, Arthurian romance, and comic tales, Truth and the Heretic seeks to understand why French literature of the period celebrated the very characters who were so persecuted in society at large. Karen Sullivan proposes that such literature allowed medieval culture a means by which to express truths about heretics and the epistemological anxieties they aroused.
The first book-length study of the figure of the heretic in medieval French literature, Truth and the Heretic explores the relation between orthodoxy and deviance, authority and innovation, and will fascinate historians of ideas and literature as well as scholars of religion, critical theory, and philosophy.
This study looks at the lives of the most famous "wild children" of eighteenth-century Europe, showing how they open a window onto European ideas about the potential and perfectibility of mankind. Julia V. Douthwaite recounts reports of feral children such as the wild girl of Champagne (captured in 1731 and baptized as Marie-Angélique Leblanc), offering a fascinating glimpse into beliefs about the difference between man and beast and the means once used to civilize the uncivilized.
A variety of educational experiments failed to tame these feral children by the standards of the day. After telling their stories, Douthwaite turns to literature that reflects on similar experiments to perfect human subjects. Her examples range from utopian schemes for progressive childrearing to philosophical tales of animated statues, from revolutionary theories of regenerated men to Gothic tales of scientists run amok. Encompassing thinkers such as Rousseau, Sade, Defoe, and Mary Shelley, Douthwaite shows how the Enlightenment conceived of mankind as an infinitely malleable entity, first with optimism, then with apprehension. Exposing the darker side of eighteenth-century thought, she demonstrates how advances in science gave rise to troubling ethical concerns, as parents, scientists, and politicians tried to perfect mankind with disastrous results.
Womb Fantasies examines the womb, an invisible and mysterious space invested with allegorical significance, as a metaphorical space in postwar cinematic and literary texts grappling with the trauma of post-holocaust, postmodern existence. In addition, it examines the representation of visible spaces in the texts in terms of their attribution with womb-like qualities. The framing of the study historically within the postwar era begins with a discussion of Eero Saarinen’s Womb Chair in the context of the Cold War’s need for safety in light of the threat of nuclear destruction, and ranges over films such as Marguerite Duras’ and Alan Resnais’ film Hiroshima mon amour and Duras’ novel The Vice-Consul, exploring the ways that such cultural texts fantasize the womb as a response to trauma, defined as the compulsive need to return to the site of loss, a place envisioned as both a secure space and a prison. The womb fantasy is linked to the desire to recreate an identity that is new and original but ahistorical.
In her controversial book Women's Words, Mona Ozouf argues that French feminism lacks the rancor and resentment of its counterparts in England and America and explains why this placid, even timid brand of feminism is uniquely French.
Ozouf uses the woman's portrait, traditionally a male genre, to portray ten French women of letters whose lives span the period from the eve of the French Revolution to the resurgence of the feminist movement in the late twentieth century. She studies the letters and memoirs of Mme du Deffand, Mme de Charrière, Mme Roland, Mme de Staël, Mme de Rémusat, George Sand, Hubertine Auclert, Colette, Simone Weil, and Simone de Beauvoir. Rejecting the male constructions of femininity typical of this genre, Ozouf restores these women's voices in order to study their own often-conflicted attitudes toward education, marriage, motherhood, sex, and work, as well as the dilemma of writing in a literary world that did not support women's work.
Ozouf claims that a uniquely French feminism informed these women's lives, one that stems from the great egalitarian spirit of the French Revolution and is more tolerant of difference than its American counterparts. She argues that as a result, modern French culture has not isolated women from men in the same ways as American and British cultures have done.
Though the practice of self-translation long predates modernity, it has found new forms of expression in the global literary market of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The international renown of self-translating authors Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabokov has offered motivation to a new generation of writers who actively translate themselves.
Intervening in recent debates in world literature and translation studies, Writing It Twice establishes the prominence and vitality of self-translation in contemporary French literature. Because of its intrinsic connection to multiple literary communities, self-translation prompts a reexamination of the aesthetics and politics of reading across national lines. Kippur argues that self-translated works should be understood as the paradigmatic example of world literature and, as such, crucial for interpreting the dynamics of literary circulation into and out of French.
Ross Chambers, an eminent critic of French literature, proposes an original theory of the development of French modernism. His work brings together practical criticism, textual theory, and historical analysis to fashion a new way of thinking about writing and reading as they intersect with history. Along the way, Chambers offers brilliant readings of texts from Madame Bovary to Les Fleurs du mal.
After the failed revolution of 1848, the sense of disillusion that swept through France deeply affected the literature of the time. Chambers argues that literary melancholy and disorientation constituted a symptom of historical conditions rather than, as many other critics contend, a willful resistance to them.
Enriched by careful readings of works by Flaubert, Nerval, Baudelaire, Gautier, and Hugo, this book is a subtle meditation on the powers of writing and reading and a suggestive contribution to current debates over the historical status of literary texts. Originally published in French, the book has been revised and expanded to include a new chapter on Gérard de Nerval's "Sylvie."
In The Written World:Space, Literature, and the Chorological Imagination in Early Modern France, Jeffrey N. Peters argues that geographic space may be understood as a foundational, originating principle of literary creation. By way of an innovative reading of chora, a concept developed by Plato in the Timaeus and often construed by philosophical tradition as “space,” Peters shows that canonical literary works of the French seventeenth century are guided by what he calls a “chorological” approach to artistic invention. The chorological imagination describes the poetic as a cosmological event that gives location to—or, more accurately, in Plato’s terms, receives—the world as an object of thought.
In analyses of well-known authors such as Corneille, Molière, Racine, and Madame de Lafayette, Peters demonstrates that the apparent absence of physical space in seventeenth-century literary depiction indicates a subtle engagement with, rather than a rejection of, evolving principles of cosmological understanding. Space is not absent in these works so much as transformed in keeping with contemporaneous developments in early modern natural philosophy. The Written World will appeal to philosophers of literature and literary theorists as well as scholars of early modern Europe and historians of science and geography