The Je-ne-sais-quoi In Early Modern Europe: Encounters With A Certain Something by Richard Scholar

The Je-ne-sais-quoi In Early Modern Europe: Encounters With A Certain Something

byRichard Scholar

Hardcover | September 30, 2005

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What is the je-ne-sais-quoi? How-if at all-can it be put into words? In addressing these questions, Richard Scholar offers the first full-length study of the je-ne-sais-quoi and its fortunes in early modern Europe. He describes the rise and fall of the expression as a noun and as a topic ofdebate, examines its cluster of meanings, and uncovers the scattered traces of its 'pre-history'. The je-ne-sais-quoi is often assumed to belong purely to the realm of the literary, but in the early modern period it serves to articulate problems of knowledge in natural philosophy, the passions, andculture, and for that reason it is approached here from an interdisciplinary perspective. Placing major figures of the period such as Montaigne, Shakespeare, Descartes, Corneille, and Pascal alongside some of their lesser-known contemporaries, Scholar argues that the je-ne-sais-quoi serves above allto capture first-person encounters with a 'certain something' that is as difficult to explain as its effects are intense. When early modern writers use the expression in this way, he suggests, they give literary form to an experience that twenty-first-century readers may recognize as something liketheir own.

About The Author

Richard Scholar is a Fellow and Tutor in French, Oriel College, Oxford
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Details & Specs

Title:The Je-ne-sais-quoi In Early Modern Europe: Encounters With A Certain SomethingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.97 inPublished:September 30, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199274401

ISBN - 13:9780199274406

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Table of Contents

Part I: Word History1. A Modish NamePart II: Critical Histories2. A Secret of Nature? Descartes and the Philosophers3. The Stroke of Passion: Pascal and the Poets4. A Sign of Quality: Bouhours and the Polite CirclePart III: Pre-history5. A Certain Something: Montaigne6. Beyond Pre-history: The Case of Shakespeare