Benedetta Craveri The Age of Conversation

ISBN 13: 9781590171417

The Age of Conversation

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Craveri (French literature, U. of Tuscia, Vitergo; and Insituto U. Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples) explores an art of sociability pursued by a group of French nobles in the 18th century. Finding a territory halfway between the court and the Church, she says, they engaged in a strictly secular, ethical, and aesthetic project that could succeed without theological backing. She ends her study with the French Revolution, after which, she says, there was not a substantial body of people with the magnificent idleness to concern themselves solely with celebrating themselves. Civiltą della coversazione was published by Adelphi Edizioni in 2001. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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About the Author:

Benedetta Craveri is the author of Madame du Deffand and Her World and a contributor to The New York Review of Books. She teaches at the University of Rome and lives in Rome and Brussels. Teresa Waugh was born in 1940. She is the author of eight novels and has translated numerous books from French and Italian. She lives in Somerset and was married to the late Auberon Waugh.

From Publishers Weekly:

Craveri's account of the French aristocratic circles in which conversation emerged as an art offers a rich blend of personalities, anecdotes, scandal and genuinely amusing letters to flesh out an intellectual argument leading from early 17th-century aristocratic entertainment to the Enlightenment salon. Craveri, a contributor to the New York Review of Books, develops her theme by examining the careers of several prominent women who carved social and intellectual space for themselves in their homes and served as models for successive generations. The Marquise de Rambouillet set the stage when she retreated from Louis XIII's inhospitable court to build her famed Blue Room, designed specifically for refined entertainment. Even in this early phase, says Craveri, an emphasis on style and wit led to some blurring of class distinctions. A generation of women who had gathered under Rambouillet's roof continued the fashion, shaped by literary interests, religion, delicately and passionately expressed tastes, love affairs and female friendships and rivalries. By the next century, the British identified wit and elegance, developed in the salons, as the quintessential French quality that allowed all manner of ideas to be expressed. This intriguing book is peppered with untranslatable words that miraculously don't weigh it down. (June)
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