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Managing Time

Literature and Devotion in Early Modern France


Edited By Richard Maber and Joanna Barker

This volume offers a multidimensional exploration of the theme of time in early modern France: of time past, time present and time future, in literature and in life.

In poetry, the importance of past and future perspectives was studied by Maynard and La Fontaine. The dynamics of tragic drama were haunted by the past, driven by the urgency of the present and pervasively aware of the alternative futures that could be created, while in imaginative fiction there was a perennial fascination with possible future societies, Utopian or otherwise.

The awareness of transience and mortality gave urgency to the right ordering of life. The Church offered guidance to the pious for their days to be passed in disciplined devotion, while the moralists urged their worldly readers to redeem their misspent time and look to things eternal. At the end, the right ordering of death was both a social and a religious preoccupation.

The essays gathered here aim to stimulate an imaginative engagement with this important theme and open up avenues for future research.


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Chapter 4: Jesuit Time in Early Seventeenth-Century France (Thomas Worcester, S. J.)


Thomas Worcester, S. J. 4 Jesuit Time in Early Seventeenth-Century France Abstract This chapter looks at how the Society of Jesus promoted a Catholic piety that in some ways minimized the importance of collective public prayer as found in monasteries, par- ishes and other churches and chapels. For example, the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, Jesuit founder, invited those doing these Exercises to mediate on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ, but without regard for liturgical times and seasons. The retreatant doing the Exercises could so at any time of year, and could be individually guided by a Jesuit spiritual director. My focus is on France, ca. 1600–1650, and on the writings of French Jesuits such as Etienne Binet and Nicolas Caussin. I also examine some of the work of Francis de Sales, bishop and bestselling writer, and though he himself was not a Jesuit, he was an alumnus of the Jesuit college in Paris. His writings helped to give Jesuit spirituality, including its individualistic notion of time, a wider audience than might otherwise be given to it. A question underneath this topic is whether or not the Jesuits helped, even if unwittingly, to prepare the way not only for a kind of privatization of time but also a secularization of time? The first Jesuits, that is, members of the Society of Jesus, were all students at the University of Paris, in the late 1520s/1530s. But they were foreign students, not French. This foreignness would...

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