17th-century French libertinism

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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The study of seventeenth-century French libertinism remained a neglected area of scholarship for many years. Nineteenth and early twentieth-century researchers were on the whole shocked to rediscover writers whose language, lifestyle, sexuality and religious heterodoxy appeared to shatter the image of purity, refinement and eloquence that had come to represent the classical period known as

le grand siècle

. Carefully crafted as early as the reign of Louis XIV, this image of refined manners and Catholic orthodoxy is now recognised as one of a number of aspects of the literature, thought and manners of seventeenth-century France. Another such aspect, libertinism, is best understood as a degree of scepticism towards the dominant and often unquestioned ideologies of the age, whether social,…

4058 words

Citation: Horsley, Adam. "17th-century French libertinism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 April 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19451, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19451 17th-century French libertinism 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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