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Essays in French Literature, Thought and Visual Culture


Edited By Georgina Evans and Adam Kay

This collection of essays arises from the 2005 Cambridge French Graduate Conference on the theme of threat. From the baleful and ubiquitous eyes of surveillance cameras to the ever-present possibility of total nuclear annihilation, threat is everywhere around us. Yet the phenomenon itself, if indeed it is a single phenomenon, has received little attention. This volume seeks to remedy this oversight with a collection of concise, hard-hitting essays on a variety of topics in French culture. Organized around central approaches to the problem of threat – (inter)cultural, philosophical, and approaches through the visual arts – the book examines anxiety, privacy, loss, invasion, and other issues related to the theme. Though emphasis is placed on the contemporary period, writers of the French Renaissance also receive due attention.


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EMILY BUTTERWORTH Borrowed Soldiers, Borrowed Words: The Threat of the Foreign in Montaigne’s ‘De la phisionomie’ 49


Emily Butterworth Borrowed Soldiers, Borrowed Words: The Threat of the Foreign in Montaigne’s ‘De la phisionomie’ In the middle of the civil war section of ‘De la phisionomie’, Montaigne refers to the foreign mercenaries who were engaged in both the royal and Protestant armies. Nos armées ne se lient et tiennent plus que par simant estranger; des françois on ne sçait plus faire un corps d’armée constant et reglé. Qu’elle honte! Il n’y a qu’autant de discipline que nous en font voir des soldats empruntez; quant à nous, nous nous conduisons à discretion, et non pas du chef, chacun selon la sienne: il a plus affaire au dedans qu’au dehors.1 In his regret at the use of foreign mercenaries, Montaigne echoes such theorists and practitioners of war as Machiavelli, Brantôme, Lucinge and La Noue, who equally condemned the deployment of foreign troops in a national army. And yet, his unusual formulation, ‘des soldats empruntez’, suggests a link through the chapter’s discussion of his own writing practices (the collection of ‘fleurs estrangeres’ and ‘parements empruntez’, 1055b) to a 1 Montaigne, Essais III, 12, in Essais, ed. by Pierre Villey and V.-L. Saulnier (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2004) 1036–63 (1042b). I shall refer to the different editions of the Essais in the conventional way: (a) edition of 1580 (b) edition of 1588 (c) additions between 1588 and Montaigne’s death in 1592. The bibliography on this chapter is large; see in particular Hope H. Glidden, ‘The face in...

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