Race Lines and the Rhetoric of Distinction through the Académie française
Chapter 1–The Académie française: Theory of Uniqueness, Mystique of Attraction and Tests of Worth 13
Chapter 1 The Académie française: Theory of Uniqueness, Mystique of Attraction, and Tests of Worth When on March 13, 1634, with their host Conrart present, Boirobert read to the Cardinal de Richelieu the function of the “assemblée” which was to be- come the Académie française, little did they know how popular, attractive, successful, and controversial their initiative would become along the years and centuries. While explaining the resistance of the Parlement to register the patents of the institution, M. le duc de La Force pointed to the first sentence of the project presented to Richelieu as a reason for jealousy on the part of the members of the Parlement. In the sentence, Boisrobert declared that the Académie relied on “its founder and his authority” because he was the only one “capable of raising it on foundations strong enough to last as long as the monarchy.”1 But we know that it survived the monarchy, if not the monar- chies, into the Republics, the Empires, the democracies, and into our days. Wasn’t there, unknown to them, something more to their undertaking than just their being a cultural or political companion to the monarchy? It seems so. The Académie survived the different political regimes and under- went influences just as the French language did, just as France itself man- aged to come together as an imagined community, and just as the ‘monarchi- cal’ social status—which dominated for long—survives in individuals who strive for...
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