In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

354BOOK REVIEWS Terpsichore at Louis-le-Grand:Baroque Dance on thefesuit Stage in Paris. By Judith Rock. [Original Studies Composed in English, Number 13, Series 3] (St. Louis: Institute ofJesuit Sources. 1996. Pp. viii, 212. $22.95 paperback.) Judith Rock merits praise for this fascinating case study of the interaction of theater arts, reUgion, and politics in the reign of Louis XTV Using previously ignored printed and manuscript sources, Rock shows how drama and ballet at the Jesuit coUege in Paris played an integral, major part in French culture and society of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Seeking to make learning enjoyable, French Jesuits encouraged their students to act and to dance. Yet performances at the Jesuit college in the French capital were not merely amateurish, in-house exercises. Students performers were joined by professionals hired from the Paris Opera; Charpentier and other leading composers of the day composed for theJesuits; Louis XIV himself, whose name the coUege bore, frequently attended performances, as did the Parisian elite of nobiUty, bourgeois, and clergy. Using Hercules, Jupiter, Mars, or Charlemagne as aUegories for the reigning king, these performances celebrated the achievements ofthe French monarchy. Drama and dance on theJesuit stage also served to glorify the Catholic faith, the virtuous life, the beauty and harmony of creation. Not everyone was pleased.Jansenists, ever-ready to criticize theJesuits, never tired of lambasting theater at Louis-le-Grand and elsewhere. According to these austere disciples of Cornelius Jansen, theater and ballet encouraged self-love and bad morals. So much delight and enjoyment could not be condoned! In a Jansenist perspective, acting and dancing were sinful;Angélique Arnauld broadened this condemnation even further, asserting that art was nothing but lies and vanity. With the same kind of reasoning (or lack of it), the University of Paris joined the Jansenist excoriation of theater, whether such theater was Jesuitsponsored or not. In 1685, putting an end to a centuries-long tradition, the University suppressed all stage performances in its precincts. It was precisely as a school for teaching virtue that the French Jesuits envisioned the arts of drama and dance. To pirouette, to preach, to paint: audiences could be taught moral lessons as they viewed a performance on stage,just as audiences were edified by pulpit oratory and by reUgious painting. Teach, delight, and move hearts from vice to virtue: the Jesuits believed that the actor or dancer could do this just as well as the orator or painter. More speculative, and thus most intriguing, is Rock's discussion of gender and the Jesuit stage. Noting that female characters and personifications were played by boys, Rock asks if any of the dancers borrowed from the Opera were women. Some of the best Opera dancers of that era were women; if masks and voluminous costumes permitted male students to play female roles, did they also aUow women to play male roles? Examining the moral messages conveyed at Louis-le-Grand performances, Rock also asserts that audiences were not presented with a "misogynist" theater, but rather with one that conveyed "a certain respect for women as decision makers and independent thinkers, capable of challenging the assumptions of men" (p. 176). If Rock is correct on this last BOOK REVIEWS355 point, historians inclined to classify the Catholic Reformation as "patriarchal" may need to revise such a label. Thomas Worcester, SJ. College ofthe Holy Cross An Irish Theologian in Enlightenment France: LukeJoseph Hooke 1714-96. By Thomas O'Connor. (Portland, Oregon: Four Courts Press. 1995. Pp. 218. $39.50.) Readers of R. R. Palmer's Catholics and Unbelievers in Eighteenth Century France wiU recognize the name. Luke Joseph Hooke, a Parisian doctor, professor at the Sorbonne,was directly associated with the two major confrontations between the Faculty of Theology of Paris and the French Enlightenment: the theses ofAbbé de Prades and the censure ofJ. J. Rousseau's Emile. He wrote influential theological treatises that had him catalogued as a CathoUc apologist. In this work, that appears to be adapted from a doctoral dissertation, Thomas O'Connor attempts to reconsider this judgment by looking at the context as weU as the content ofHooke's theological vision. The book could be...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 354-355
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.