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The Wisdom of Animals
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Throughout Western civilization, animals have decorated heraldic shields, populated medieval manuscripts, and ornamented baroque pottery. Animals have also been our companions, our correctives, and our ciphers as humanity has represented and addressed issues of authority, cultural strife, and self-awareness as theological, moral, and social beings. In The Wisdom of Animals: Creatureliness in Early Modern French Spirituality, Catharine Randall traces two threads of thought that consistently appear in a number of early modern French texts: how animals are used as a means for humans to explore themselves and the meaning of existence; and how animals can be subjects in their own right. In her accessible, interdisciplinary study, Randall explores the link between philosophical and theological discussions of the nature and status of animals vis-à-vis the rest of existence, particularly humans. In doing so, she provides the early modern backdrop for the more frequently studied modern and postmodern notions of animality. Randall approaches her themes by way of French confessional and devotional literature, especially the works of Michel de Montaigne, Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas, St. Francis de Sales, and Guillaume-Hyacinthe Bougeant. From these, she elicits contrasting perspectives of animality: rational vs. mystical, representational vs. sacramental, religious vs. secular, and Protestant vs. Jesuit Catholic perspectives.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. Chapter One: Sixteenth-Century Animal Avatars in Montaigne and His Contemporaries
  2. pp. 15-38
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  1. Chapter Two: Job’s Horse and Other Creatures
  2. pp. 39-60
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  1. Chapter Three: The Fauna of Faith
  2. pp. 61-92
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  1. Chapter Four: Le Père Bougeant’s Heresy
  2. pp. 93-124
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 125-138
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 139-160
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 161-168
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 169-180
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  1. About the Author, Back Cover
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