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L'Esprit Créateur early seventeenth century and uiat, furthermore, these enterprises were crucial to establishing a French collective identity, since die very notion of "Frenchness" can only be defined against what it is not. While modern readers of French classical dieatre know how it helped consolidate absolutism representing and glorifying the Sun King's power, we have not realized what Longino's study powerfully illuminates: the extent to which plays by Racine, Corneille, and Molière worked to create a sense of cultural identity and superiority specifically through "Orientalism"—Edward Said's term, which Longino borrows, for die many ways in which die West has essentialized, objectified, and fantasized die East in order to control "knowledge" of die Oriental Other in its own interests. According to Longino, die Orientalism evident in French classical drama "provided die ideological underpinning necessary to justify eventual French hegemony and dominion over its colonial territories" (7). Because France in die seventeenth century was expanding its colonies to North Africa, North America, and die Caribbean, among odier places, it needed to rehearse familiar stories about die Other in order to legitimize new methods of exploitation—slavery, for example . As Longino's research shows, France's long-standing diplomatic and colonialist relations widi die Ottoman Empire provided its premier playwrights with just die sort of material through which to sanction new colonialist behaviors and to define "Frenchness." To illustrate die political stakes of Orientalism, Longino analyzes seven canonical plays, which have never been studied togetiier before because their investments in representing uie Mediterranean were not apparent. She reads Corneilles Médée, Le Cid, and Tue et Bérénice; Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme; Racine's Bérénice, Bajazet, and Mithridate in die context of travel journals, letters, histories, and memoirs which document France's relations widi die Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century. We learn, for instance, that in 1658, die Marseille Chamber of Commerce made it illegal for families to accompany merchants to die Levant because die Chamber believed that women and children hindered profit-making. So as not to deprive French merchants of heterosexual relations, however, die Chamber decreed uiat, following die local practice of "Kadi," French men could take an Eastern wife for a month or two, leaving her behind when they returned to France. Longino argues uiat diese policies form a "discreet echo chamber" for die two Bérénice plays, which in different ways portray die Eastern "wife" as dangerous and out of place in Rome (Paris), dierefore, in need of being subdued (156-78). As Longino further demonstrates, die Oriental Other is itself feminized in relation to a French masculine self. The gendered rhetoric of die two Bérénice plays works "to exclude die female population from die patriotic community uiat is in uie process of inventing itself in die theatre. An important consequence of tins omission will be die eventual alienation of women as potential citizens " (155). By revealing die Orientalism in classical theatre, Longino "defamil¡arizes" canonical texts in fascinating and troubling ways. As she reflects, diese texts, perennially popular on French and U.S. stages and in curricula, continue to reinforce a particular understanding of French—and Western—identity, which, given current issues over immigration, multi-edmic populations, and globalization, needs to be questioned and revised. Katharine Ann Jensen Louisiana State University Elizabeth Emery. Romancing the Cathedral: Gothic Architecture in Fin-de-Siècle French Culture . Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 2001. Pp. viii + 234. The interest in die material past so prevalent in nineteenrh-century France has been die subject of numerous studies since die mid-1980s. Histories of collecting, die museum, and uie establishment of national monuments have fascinated historians, art historians, and literary critics. Elizabeth Emery's Romancing the Cathedral draws from and contributes to uiis already substantial body of scholarship by examining a brief period in die construction of a national symbol, in the spirit of Pierre Nora's landmark Les Lieux de mémoire (which includes several articles about 106 Summer 2002 Book Reviews churches and catiiedrals). Focusing on die medievalism of die 1880s and 1890s as manifested in three novel cycles. Romancing the Cathedral carves out a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 106-107
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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