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Politeness and its Discontents

Politeness and its Discontents
Problems in French Classical Culture


Part of Cambridge Studies in French

  • Date Published: January 1992
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521370707

£ 88.00

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About the Authors
  • This is a 1992 study of writing of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mainly in France, but also in Britain and Russia. Its focus is on the establishing and questioning of rational, 'civilized' norms of 'politeness', which in the ancien régime meant not just polite manners, but a certain ideal of society and culture. Within this general context, a series of familiar oppositions, between polite and rude, tame and wild, urban(e) and rustic, élite and popular, adult and child, reason and unreason, gives the initial impetus to enquiries which often show how these opposites interpenetrate, how hierarchies are reversed, and how compromises are sought. Polite society, like polite literature, needs and desires its opposite. The ideal is often the meeting of garden and wilderness, where the savage encounters the civilized and gifts are exchanged. Professor France points to the centrality, but also the vulnerability, in classical culture, of the ideal of 'politeness', and his discussion embraces revolutionary eloquence and enlightened primitivism, the value of hyperbole, and the essay as a form of polite sociability.

    • Author well known in the field of French studies - editor of a new edition of Oxford Companion to French Literature
    • Relevant to 17th- and 18th-century literature in Europe generally - contains material on Britain and Russia as well as France
    • This topic has wide implications for the understanding of classical culture
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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 1992
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521370707
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Excess and Unreason:
    1. Hyperbole
    2. Ogres
    3. Myth and modernity: Racine's Phèdre
    Part II. Enlightened Sociability:
    4. Polish, police, polis
    5. The sociable essayist: Addison and Marivaux
    6. The commerce of the self
    7. The writer as performer
    8. Beyond politeness? Speakers and audience at the Convention Nationale
    Part III. Confronting the Other:
    9. Translating the British
    10. Jacques or his master? Diderot and the peasants
    11. Enlightened primitivism
    12. Frontiers of civilization

  • Author

    Peter France

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