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The Middle Ages Reconsidered

Attitudes in France from the Eighteenth Century through the Romantic Movement

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Barbara Keller

Held in low esteem since the Renaissance, scorned by Englightenment authors as incompatible with the theory of progress, the Middle Ages found a place in other French literature of the eighteenth century with its increasing taste for sentimentality and need for moral edification. A metaphor for the Ancien Régime following the Revolution, the medieval period gained perception as le bon vieux temps. As «national» became increasingly synonymous with «medieval» and backlash against the Church led to a new religiosity, Romantic writers greatly exploited a subjective ideal they sought in the Middle Ages. This fascinating study thoroughly explores the reception of the Middle Ages in French literature during these periods.