This volume is the first book-length study devoted to gossip in early modern France. Whereas many works that focus on other countries and periods have concentrated on the relationship between gossip and women, none has explored the crucial link between gossip and same-sex desire. Using material that has never been published before and touching on different social spheres, from valets to the immediate circle of Louis XIV, the author reveals a world radically different from the traditional image of France under the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. An in-depth analysis of the theory and practice of gossip is followed by an examination of songs, poems, memoirs, letters and anecdotes from the time, bringing the milieu of what was known as ‘the Italian vice’ vividly to life. The book concludes by bringing these insights on gossip to a refreshing new reading of one of the period’s groundbreaking novels, Marie-Madeleine de Lafayette’s
La Princesse de Clèves.