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  • Œuvres en rupture entre France et Italie: arts, sciences et lettres (XVIe-XVIIe siècle) ed. by Florent Libral, Fanny Népote
  • Emma Herdman
Œuvres en rupture entre France et Italie: arts, sciences et lettres (XVIe-XVIIe siècle). Sous la direction de Florent Libral et Fanny Népote. (Lettres et culture.) Toulouse: Presses universitaires du Midi, 2018. 286 pp.

The editors of this collection of essays present the idea of an œuvre en rupture as an early modern paradox, simultaneously connoting divine creation and its destruction. They aim firstly to show how the early modern desire to innovate, explored here in the fields of philosophy, politics, cosmology, and aesthetics, redefines the status of an œuvre within the traditions to which, however disruptively, it belongs. Secondly, they seek to demonstrate the high degree of public interest in Italian-influenced œuvres en rupture in France, even if these fall foul of official censors. The first section focuses on science and philosophy, with essays on politics, philosophy, and the natural world. Jérôme Lamy presents Pierre Belon's Italian-influenced demonstration of the political usefulness of botany as balanced between the two scientific traditions of Renaissance analogy and classical ordering. Didier Foucault traces both the Italian traditions behind Giulio Cesare Vanini's irreligious naturalist philosophy, and its reception in France as subversive libertinage. Jean-Pierre Cavaillé demonstrates how Louis Machon, using biblical authority to defend Machiavelli (in a political context that hypocritically denounces Machiavellianism), develops a naturalist philosophy in which religion serves [End Page 599] purely political ends. The second section contains three essays on the cross-over between literature and the sciences. Michaël Boulet reads Celio Calcagnini's cosmological declamation, renouncing the Ptolemaic system without quite embracing Copernicanism, as an example of a paradoxical literary genre whose rhetorical strategies and contradictory arguments invite readers to ask potentially heterodox questions rather than risk answering them. Florent Libral analyses how the disruptive cosmological theories of Giordano Bruno and Galileo combine to influence the fictitious space-travel narratives of the Catholic Athanasius Kircher and the atheist Cyrano de Bergerac, both of whom destabilize man's anthropocentric perception of the universe, albeit to different ends. Philippe Chométy uses the example of Tommaso Campailla to argue that scientific poetry works against rupture as it tries to counteract the developing schism between the sciences and the arts. In the third section, on literary ruptures, Delphine Montoliu demonstrates the new uses of allegory in seventeenthcentury debates about poetic style, seen in the examples of Scipio Errico, defending the ornate style of Giambattista Marino, and Antoine Furetière, defending classical simplicity. Patrick Dandrey charts how, in response to changing public tastes, Jean de La Fontaine abandons the heroic style of Marino, as exemplified by Tristan L'Hermite, in favour of the more natural style of François de Malherbe. In the final section, on artistic and musical ruptures, Vincent Dorothée presents the ballet La Délivrance de Renaud as anticipating both the imminent political rupture between Louis XIII and his mother that it allegorically represents, and the shift towards the ambiguous and grotesque form of the ballet-mascarade. Finally, Yann Mahé argues that Jean-Laurent Le Cerf de La Viéville's anti-Italian music criticism, paradoxically defending the Italian moderne Lully as an ancien and as the model for French music, shifts the terms of musical querelles and founds modern music criticism. Overall, these ten engaging essays constitute a slightly disparate collection but offer some excellent individual case studies of Italian-influenced works in early modern France.

Emma Herdman
University of St Andrews


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pp. 599-600
Launched on MUSE
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