Time and Ways of Knowing Under Louis XIV

Roland Racevskis

220 pages
ISBN 1611481655
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

What can we know about the understanding of time in a particular cultural or historical setting, and what can this knowledge tell us about how we think about time today? Time and Ways of Knowing: Molière, Sévigné, Lafayette raises these questions by examining the scientific measurement and perception of time in seventeenth-century Europe and particularly in France.

This widely researched book argues that the technological and social changes relating to time have a paradoxical impact in seventeenth-century France; they lead to more control of the individual, thus intruding upon the realm of the private, and at the same time encourage the development of a newfound sense of privacy and subjectivity, partly in reaction to the increasing control of the individual by the state. This Foucauldian hypothesis is compellingly developed through a number of critical readings in historical contexts: the social framework of court life under Louis XIV is made to shed light on Molière's theatrical time; an analysis of early modern French postal reform reveals that concertedly diurnal nature of Mme de Sévigné's letters; and the consideration of early French periodicals evoks readers' reactions to Mme de Lafayette's La Princesse de Clèves, a novel whose discourses proposed a new kind of narrative time. A conclusion connects early modern historical questions of human temporality to present-day environmental concerns.

Time and Ways of Knowing is an original, interdisciplinary study that will appeal to scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture, and of the philosophy of science, as well as to those interested in narrative, temporality, and questions of disciplinary.

About the author:

Roland Racevskis, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in French at the University of Iowa, is the author of Time and Ways of Knowing: Molière, Sèvignè, Lafayette (Bucknell University Press, 2003).


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