Representing Avarice in Late Renaissance France

Hardcover | February 22, 2015

byJonathan Patterson

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Why did people talk so much about avarice in late Renaissance France, nearly a century before Moliere's famous comedy, L'Avare? As wars and economic crises ravaged France on the threshold of modernity, avarice was said to be flourishing as never before. Yet by the late sixteenth century, anumber of French writers would argue that in some contexts, avaricious behaviour was not straightforwardly sinful or harmful. Considerations of social rank, gender, object pursued, time, and circumstance led some to question age-old beliefs. Traditionally reviled groups (rapacious usurers, greedylawyers, miserly fathers, covetous women) might still exhibit unmistakable signs of avarice - but perhaps not invariably, in an age of shifting social, economic and intellectual values. Across a large, diverse corpus of French texts, Jonathan Patterson shows how a range of flexible genres nourished by humanism tended to offset traditional condemnation of avarice and avares with innovative, mitigating perspectives, arising from subjective experience. In such writings, an avariciousdisposition could be re-described as something less vicious, excusable, or even expedient. In this word history of avarice, close readings of well-known authors (Marguerite de Navarre, Ronsard, Montaigne), and of their lesser-known contemporaries are connected to broader socio-economic developmentsof the late French Renaissance (c.1540-1615). The final chapter situates key themes in relation to Moliere's L'Avare. As such, Representing Avarice in Late Renaissance France newly illuminates debates about avarice within broader cultural preoccupations surrounding gender, enrichment and status inearly modern France.

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Why did people talk so much about avarice in late Renaissance France, nearly a century before Moliere's famous comedy, L'Avare? As wars and economic crises ravaged France on the threshold of modernity, avarice was said to be flourishing as never before. Yet by the late sixteenth century, anumber of French writers would argue that in so...

Jonathan Patterson is a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow in French at the University of Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:February 22, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198716516

ISBN - 13:9780198716518

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Avarice and Avares2. Gender Battles3. Grasping at Gold and Money4. The 'Fourth Estate'5. Montaigne's Avarice6. Before and Beyond MoliereBibliography