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

178 Reviews Huppert, George, The Style of Paris: Renaissance Origins of the French Enlightenment, Bloomington and Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1999; pp. 146; R R P US$35 (cloth), US$14.95 (paper). George Huppert is a well-known specialist on Renaissance France whose books have mapped the terrain of the intellectual and social history of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century France. To mention just those books directly relevant to the topic, there have been The Idea of Perfect History: Historical Eruditio and Historical Philosophy in Renaissance France (University of Illinois Press, 1970); Les Bourgeois Gentilhommes: An Essay on the Definition of Elites in Renaissance France (University of Chicago Press, 1977); and Public Schools in Renaissance France (University of Illinois Press, 1984). Well, Huppert has done it again: to paraphrase the book's title, it is very much 'in the style of Huppert'. To begin with, it is extremely well-written, in the tradition of his The Idea of Perfect History which reads superbly both in English and in French; it is concise (only 120 pages of text), but well grounded in both primary and secondary sources; it is also extremely well focused yet approaching its topic from a variety of angles to reveal the full breadth (as well as depth) of this terrain of the France from Francis I to Richelieu that Huppert has very much made his own. To sum it all, Huppert's The Style of Paris is above all an elegant book, yet it is also profoundly a scholarly book. Only a scholar who has read widely in the diffuse and sometimes rather esoteric sources, and has integrated them fully into his own vision ofwhat French state, society, and culture in that crucial period was like can deal in such a selfassured yet scrupulously documented fashion. If Huppert's approach sometimes looks nonchalant at itsfirstreading, this is profoundly deceptive: it is a deliberate strategy to get the reader interested in what is often rather arcane, not to say heavily intellectual, 'stuff'. In this review it is impossible to go into great detail, but I will give a couple of examples. Take, for example, the superb opening portrait ofbotanist Pierre Belon, w h o m Huppert introduces in the title to Chapter One as 'a discreet Philosophe'. While Belon's own account of his travels to the Orient is hardly unknown, and while he has figured prominently as an early classifier of botanical knowledge, this is not why Huppert chooses to open his book with this sixteenth-century scientist's travelogue titled (in a typically Renaissance fashion) Les Observations de plusieurs singularitez & choses memorables trouvees en Grece, Asie, Iudee, Egypte, Arable & autres pays estranges. As Huppert explains, Belon 'was writing his Observations from within Reviews 179 a particular set of assumptions which he shared with a number of other young intellectuals in Paris. These assumptions are the subject of m y inquiry'(p. 3). These assumptions underlie what is known in Latin as modus parisiensis and in French as stile de Paris. Belon decided to write in French and to use a simple, straightforward style, stripped of all rhetorical flourishes. The reader he has in mind is not an academic, not someone w h o knows much Latin, not someone who enjoys erudite digressions and debates ... Belon's decision to write in French struck the academic community as so odd, so unprecedented, so undignified that the classicists among his acquaintances, searching for an explanation, suspected that his command ofthe Latin language was proving inadequate to the task he set himself, (p. 5) But if Belon's choice of language is rather perplexing, his attitude is rat shocking: visiting the ancient island of Crete, Belon does not adopt a Christian (in his case the Roman Catholic) viewpoint automatically as his contemporary Thevet did: Instead of the opposition between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox or, for that matter, between Christian and infidel, Belon grasps an entirely different distinction, that which opposes 'Ignorance' to 'Philosophy' ... In the East, Belon points out, all the Greeks live 'in an amazing condition ofignorance'. There is not a single university anywhere. There are no bookstobe found in Greek monasteries. The monks are illiterate for...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 178-180
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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.