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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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ADAM KAYA Beautiful Evil: Erotic Invasion in Ronsard’s Amours de Cassandre 155


Adam Kay A Beautiful Evil: Erotic Invasion in Ronsard’s Amours de Cassandre Non, ce n’est point une peine qu’aimer: C’est un beau mal, et son feu dous-amer Plus doucement, qu’amerement nous brule. — Ronsard Today, Cupid is the god of Valentine’s Day. The chubby baby wings across the front of greeting cards, often accompanied by the lesser divinities Doily Heart, Chocolate, and Thornless Rose. This last member of the group reveals to what extent Love has been stripped: a persona stretching back thousands of years has had his barbs dulled, his fire tamed, and his frenzies calmed and forgotten. The attenuation of his classical personality as Eros did not result, however, in unpopularity or anonymity. The contemporary, saccharine Cupid has what advertisers call ‘high brand equity’. When Love needs representation, in wings the chubby baby (hearts and chocolates optional), and the expected response is immediately recognised. Babies are sweet, cuddly, and adorable! Yet something important is lost in this representation. It is already far distanced from the classical tradition, one important stream of which represents Love by bees or roses – i.e. as bittersweet. The thorns of the rose and the sting of the bee are half of the picture, yet florists regularly strip roses of this traditional symbolism by dethorning them (especially when arranging for weddings). Today, roses are so hybridised that some varie- ties lack thorns altogether, and this is seen as a good thing. As one website proclaims: 156 Adam Kay A rose without thorns is in some way...

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