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Evocations of Eloquence

Rhetoric, Literature and Religion in Early Modern France - Essays in Honour of Peter Bayley


Edited By Nicholas Hammond and Michael Moriarty

This collection of essays by leading scholars from France, Great Britain and North America is published in honour of Peter Bayley, former Drapers Professor of French at the University of Cambridge and a leading scholar of early modern France. The volume reflects his scholarly interest in the interface between religion, rhetoric and literature in the period 1500–1800. The first three sections of the book are concerned with the early modern period. The contributors consider subjects including the eloquence of oration from the pulpit, the relationship between religion, culture and belief, and the role of theatre and ceremony during the seventeenth century. They engage with individuals such as the theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, the dramatists Molière, Racine and Corneille, and the philosophers Bayle and Pascal. The volume concludes with a section that is concerned with critical influences and contexts from the sixteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Throughout, the authors offer stimulating new perspectives on an age that never ceases to intrigue and fascinate.


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Part III Theatre and Ceremony


Nicholas Hammond The Child’s Voice: Knowledge and Inexperience in Seventeenth-Century France Bossuet’s role as tutor to Louis XIV’s young son started with much high- mindedness and expectation. As he writes, ‘à force de répéter, nous fîmes que ces trois mots, piété, bonté, justice, demeurèrent dans sa mémoire avec toute la liaison qui est entre eux’.1 However, before long such lofty ideals gave way to far more prosaic matters, with Bossuet scolding his pupil in a letter for not paying attention to the rules of grammar.2 The ‘délicatesse’ of Bossuet’s future sermons and funeral orations must have seemed all too far away for him at that point.3 His pedagogical failure is only too appar- ent when he continues the missive with the exasperated ‘il n’est pas en notre pouvoir de vous mettre dans l’esprit ce qui sert à cultiver la raison et la vertu, pendant que vous penserez à toute autre chose’.4 As Saint-Simon, with characteristic waspishness, remarked of the dauphin, ‘Son peu de lumières, s’il en eut jamais, s’éteignit au contraire sous la rigueur d’une édu- cation dure et austère, qui donna le premier poids à sa timidité naturelle, et le dernier degré d’aversion pour toute espèce, non pas de travail et d’étude, mais d’amusement d’esprit, en sorte que, de son aveu, depuis qu’il avait été af franchi des maîtres, il n’avait de sa vie lu que l’article de Paris de la 1 Bossuet, Lettres sur l’éducation du Dauphin, ed....

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