Préciosité (2350 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Helena Taylor (University of Exeter)
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The word préciosité has had a long and varied history in French culture. At the beginning of fifteenth century, it referred to female chastity; by the end, its plural form had come to designate affectation. In its “heyday” of the seventeenth century, it was a derogatory term used to describe the behavior and aesthetics of culturally active women, the précieuses; and in the nineteenth century, it was nuanced again and employed to malign writing by women that fell outside the constructed ideal of seventeenth-century French classicisme. The precise meaning of the word is still being debated by critics and historians, and essentially so, since establishing the definition and signification of préciosité

Taylor, Helena. "Préciosité". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 August 2016
[, accessed 19 March 2019.]

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