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This collection of twenty essays, of which five are in French, written by leading English and French literary and historical scholars, deconstructs the ethical and political framework supporting and circumscribing the actions of a powerful elite in France between the early 1600s and the final years of Louis XIV's reign. Reflecting a diversity of individual concerns, the essays, which offer a radical double questioning of the absolute values in which were founded the authority of Church, King and nobility, have been divided into two interrelated parts in acknowledgement of the complex tensions between codes of behaviour and political practice in the different theatrical spaces of government in the real and imaginary world.
The dual political and moral theme of this study is not new, but it is one which has always been highly regarded by historians and literary specialists alike. It is in fact one of the 'classics' of seventeenth-century studies, the one to which critics must always return, and to which students must always address themselves, if they are to comprehend the intellectual core of seventeenth-century French studies.
“This volume merits careful reading by all specialists in seventeenth century French studies. The thematic coherence provided by the focus on literature and politics in Watt's own work has been reflected in this volume with learned and illuminating results.” –Papers in Seventeenth Century French Literature
English Historical Review
“...this collection contains much that will interest the historian and the literary scholar.” –English Historical Review, April 1998, Vol. CXIII, No. 451
“The editors are to be complimented for assembling this international team of scholars, who have explored a theme which is central to the cultural and political history of seventeenth-century France.” –French History, Vol. 12, No. 3 1998
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