The Age of Conversation

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New York Review of Books, 2006 - 488 páginas
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between the reign of Louis XIII and the Revolution, the French nobility of the ancien regime turned their energies to developing the art of sociability, a refined code of manners, and an ideal of gallant, spirited conversation that became a model for social and intellectual life. Benedetta Craveri's history of this leisured, worldly society begins in the 1620s with the celebrated Blue Room of the Marquise de Rambouillet, one of the first in a long series of women who resided over conversations among nobles, writers, prelates, and diplomats. The women Craveri profiles played a significant part in the development of new literary forms such as the novel and the maxim, the codification of language, taste, and behavior, and debates over religion, philosophy, and science. Some, like Madame de Lafayette and Madame de Stael, were gifted writers themselves. Some were involved in the major events of their time, like the Grande Mademoiselle and the Duchesse de Longueville during the Fronde rebellion. Later, the Marquise de Lambert, Madame de Tencin, and Julie de Lespinasse opened their salons to intellectuals such as Fontenelle, Montesquieu, d'Alembert, and Diderot, thus helping to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment. In demonstrating the diversity of these women's accomplishments, Benedetta Craveri brings to life this brilliant, vanished culture that perfected the pleasure of living. In her pages, the world of La Rochefoucauld, Louis XIV, and Votaire, of Jansenism, preciosity, Mlle de Scudery's literary portraits, and Mme de Sevigne's letters, appears in all its fascinating complexity.

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Contenido

A Way of Life
1
Daughters of
10
The Blue Room
27
The Âme du Rond 5 La Guirlande de Julie
67
A Perfect Transformation
71
The Duchesse de Montbazon and the Reformer of La Trappe
89
The Salon in the Convent I Foundresses of Jansenism
97
Friendship as a Passion
109
The Importance of Reputation
219
LEsprit de Société I The Character of the Nation
231
The Court as Theater
243
The Revenge of Paris
254
The Patriarch of Ferney
257
The Ideal of the Honnête Femme
263
The Enlightenment Adventuress
277
Emulation
295

In the Shade of PortRoyal
117
The Maxim Game
127
La Grande Mademoiselle I The Heroine of the Fronde
137
The Trials of Exile
144
The Portrait Game
157
The Discovery of The Other
173
A Lasting Friendship
175
Pure Sentiment
209
The Age of Conversation
296
The Seductions of the Spoken Word
337
The Deceptions of the Spoken Word
351
The Power of the Spoken Word
357
Bibliographical Essay
377
Index of Names
447
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Acerca del autor (2006)

BENEDETTA CRAVERI is a professor of French literature at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, and the Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples. She regularly contributes to The New York Review of Books and to the cultural pages of the Italian newspaper La Republica. Her books include Madame du Deffand and Her World, La Vie privee du Marechal de Richelieu, and Amanti e regine: Il potere delle donne.

Teresa Waugh is the author of eight novels including The House. She has translated numerous books from both French and Italian, including Benedetta Craveri's Madame du Duffand and Her World and Anka Muhlstein's A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe Custine. She is the widow of Auberon Waugh, son of Evelyn Waugh, and lives in Somerset, England.


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