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BOOK REVIEWS 177 Amsterdam, appears in the series of the International Archives of the History of Ideas, published under the direction of P. Dibon of Nijmegen and R. Popkin of the University of California at San Diego and a distinguished international editorial committee. Other volumes demonstrate the philosophical respectability of the collection: three on Descartes and Cartesianism, one on Berkeley's immaterialism, three on Pierre Bayle, the rest on philosophical topics from the Renaissance to the 19th century. In this gallery, these letters by a not very good French poet---who was yet an acute and rather individualistic judge of men and books, already one of the arbiters of intellectual and artistic life in France--may seem a little out of place. Yet, to many historians of intellectual affairs, the firm establishment of dates and personal relationships is a matter of much importance, and documents such as these, largely devoted as they are to the communication of news about books and writers, the activities of rulers and ambassadors, printers and curious travelers, can be a substantial aid in determining the structure of an historical moment, the succession and interrelationship of events. One is willing to grant that much of what Chapelain wrote to Heinsius is trivial and concerns books and literary news of slight importance, that a delicate irony makes less of some of his comments than they were worth at the time. The triviality itself is a clue to the temper of Paris during the Fronde and in the late years of the regency of Mazarin. Great ideas were not being discussed in public when Pascal was writing his Pensdes; the irony is a mode of defense against involvement, and fashionable at the time. Bray's elaborate introduction is more concerned with the artistic and subjective aspect of the letters than with their contribution to intellectual history. In about a hundred pages, he discusses his author's method of writing, the genre which this kind of letter represents, the artistry it exhibits, from basic structure to stylistic ornamentation, and finally the human and even ethical implications of this collection. His notes are full and informative; identifications are well documented and cross-referencing in the notes and in the index of names make the volume a usable source of information, even though it cannot be recommended as stimulating debate or lively narrative. The topics discussed by Chapelain range over a considerable area, without becoming controversial. There is one exceptional letter in which he instructs Heinsius in adapting his integrity to the role of a diplomat; he must acquire "un peu de dissimulation" to oppose to "l'ing~nuit~ du Parnasse." There are references to civil strife, to foreign affairs, to the rivalry of Dutch and English navies, to the sympathy of the French for the Swedish Lutheran dynasty as opposed to the Catholic ttapsburgs and the ecclesiastical electors of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier. Queen Christina of Sweden plays a continually less attractive part as the letters proceed to their end; and Christiaan Huygens, the Duc de Montausier, Ismael Boulliau, Guez de Balzac, and Gilles M4nage figure more or less regularly in these pages. Of philosophers there is little mention, and of discussion of ideas for their own sake still less. The letters are, like many another collection deriving from the age before the learned and scientific journals, a source of valuable information about certain persons and certain books; they are hardly a serious contribution to the history of ideas. H~covaT BROWN Brown University Pascal. By J. H. Broome. (New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1966. pp. x + 250. $6.00.) The most remarkable feature of this work is that it locates and forcefully interprets philosophical themes common to all of Pascal's widely=diversified writing. In his works on the vacuum, the computer, geometry, hydrostatics, Grace, freedom and the art of persuasion as well as the Pens~es, Broome locates five regular features of Pascal's thought: 1) the three orders (pp. 103-4, inter alia); 2) the deux infinis (p. 146); 3) a theory of knowl- 178 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY edge; 4) a dialecticalmethod; and 5) a theory of communication. The former two themes are commonly discussed by students of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 177-181
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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