The Age of Conversation

The Age of Conversation

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Overview

The Age of Conversation by Benedetta Craveri

Now in paperback, an award-winning look at French salons and the women who presided over them

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, between the reign of Louis XIII and the Revolution, French aristocratic society developed an art of living based on a refined code of good manners.

Conversation, which began as a way of passing time, eventually became the central ritual of social life. In the salons, freed from the rigidity of court life, it was women who dictated the rules and presided over exchanges among socialites, writers, theologians, and statesmen. They contributed decisively to the development of the modern French language, new literary forms, and debates over philosophical and scientific ideas.

With a cast of characters both famous and unknown, ranging from the Marquise de Rambouillet to Madame de Sta‘l, and including figures like Ninon de Lenclos, the Marquise de Sevigne, and Madame de Lafayette, as well as Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Diderot, and Voltaire, Benedetta Craveri traces the history of this worldly society that carried the art of sociability to its supreme perfection–and ultimately helped bring on the Revolution that swept it all away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590172148
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 08/01/2006
Pages: 508
Sales rank: 904,468
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

BENEDETTA CRAVERI is a professor of French literature at the University of Tuscia, Viterbo, and the Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples. She regularly contributes to The New York Review of Books and to the cultural pages of the Italian newspaper La Republica. Her books include Madame du Deffand and Her World, La Vie privee du Marechal de Richelieu, and Amanti e regine: Il potere delle donne.

Teresa Waugh is the author of eight novels including The House. She has translated numerous books from both French and Italian, including Benedetta Craveri’s Madame du Duffand and Her World and Anka Muhlstein’s A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe Custine. She is the widow of Auberon Waugh, son of Evelyn Waugh, and lives in Somerset, England.


Table of Contents

Introductionix
1A Way of Life1
2Daughters of Eve9
3The Blue Room27
4Vincent Voiture: The Ame du Rond45
5La Guirlande de Julie65
6Madame de Longueville: A Perfect Transformation71
7The Duchesse de Montbazon and the Reformer of La Trappe89
8The Marquise de Sable: The Salon in the Convent
IFoundresses of Jansenism97
IIFriendship as a Passion109
IIIIn the Shade of Port-Royal117
IVThe Maxim Game127
9La Grande Mademoiselle
IThe Heroine of the Fronde137
IIThe Trials of Exile144
IIIThe Portrait Game157
IVThe Discovery of "The Other"173
10Madame de Sevigne and Madame de Lafayette: A Lasting Friendship175
11Madame de la Sabliere: Pure Sentiment209
12Madame de Maintenon and Ninon de Lenclos: The Importance of Reputation219
13L'Esprit de Societe
IThe Character of the Nation231
IIThe Court as Theater243
IIIThe Revenge of Paris254
IVThe Patriarch of Ferney257
14The Marquise de Lambert: The Ideal of the Honnete Femme263
15Madame de Tencin: The Enlightenment Adventuress277
16Emulation295
17The Age of Conversation
IThe Seductions of the Spoken Word337
IIThe Deceptions of the Spoken Word351
IIIThe Power of the Spoken Word357
Bibliographical Essay377
Index of Names447

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