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Time and Ways of Knowing Under Louis XIV

Roland Racevskis

2003
216 pages
$46.50
ISBN 1611481655
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

What can we know about the understanding of time in a particular cultural or historical setting, and what can this knowledge tell us about how we think about time today? Time and Ways of Knowing: Molière, Sévigné, Lafayette raises these questions by examining the scientific measurement and perception of time in seventeenth-century Europe and particularly in France.

This widely researched book argues that the technological and social changes relating to time have a paradoxical impact in seventeenth-century France; they lead to more control of the individual, thus intruding upon the realm of the private, and at the same time encourage the development of a newfound sense of privacy and subjectivity, partly in reaction to the increasing control of the individual by the state. This Foucaludian hypothesis is compellingly developed through a number of critical readings in historical contexts: the social framework of court life under Louis XIV is made to shed light on Molière's theatrical time; an analysis of early modern French postal reform reveals that concertedly diurnal nature of Mme de Sévigné's letters; and the consideration of early French periodicals evoks readers' reactions to Mme de Lafayette's La Princesse de Clèves, a novel whose discourses proposed a new kind of narrative time. A conclusion connects early modern historical questions of human temporality to present-day environmental conerns.

Time and Ways of Knowing is an original, interdisciplinary study that will appeal to scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture, and of the philosophy of science, as wlel as to those interested in narrative, temporality, and questions of disciplinary.

About the author:

Roland Racevskis, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in French at the University of Iowa, is the author of Time and Ways of Knowing: Molière, Sèvignè, Lafayette (Bucknell University Press, 2003).

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