A poetics of eloquence : the rhetoric of French Baroque poetry, 1600-1635

Auteur: Taormina, Michael
Titre: A poetics of eloquence : the rhetoric of French Baroque poetry, 1600-1635
Lieu èdition: New York
Éditeur: Columbia University, Department of French and Romance Philology.
Annèe edition: 2002
Pages: I, 216
Mots-clès: Éloquence - Eloquenza - Eloquence, Poesia - Poesie - Poetry, Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics
Description: [Abstract] Thesis (Ph. D.). The main goal is to give a fresh reading to three French Baroque poets: Malherbe, Theophile de Viau, and Saint-Amant. I argue that the unifying concept of the arts in the early 17th century is not the Baroque, but eloquence. Hence the real issue in French Baroque poetry is decorum. Most readers associate decorum with the bienseances and convenance of Classical esthetics: a highly prescriptive and, in many ways, unhistorical conception of decorum. I return to the ancient rhetorical manuals to redefine decorum as open-ended, the way Cicero meant it to be: it is the rule that says one must adapt to the particulars of each occasion. In the early 17th century, the French Baroque poets had to adapt their poetry to secure the patronage of a rich and powerful aristocrat. The "bizarre" formal aspects of their work, which has traditionally caught the attention of critics, are in fact explained by the need to display virtuoso talent to potential patrons under Henri IV and Louis XIII. If the French Baroque poets have been neglected in the history of eloquence, it is because a shift to a more Aristotelian decorum around 1624 delegitimizes their ostentatious eloquence. Prior to this shift, the French Baroque poets have the function and authority to proclaim the excellence of the King, the Queen, a favored courtier, or any powerful aristocrat. The French Baroque poets are indeed sophists, but not those who seek victory for the sake of glory, nor those who violate decorum. They are "cunning artificers of speech" in the epideictic sphere of eloquence, whose end is pleasure. Their lyric poetry is essentially a species of epideictic eloquence. The French Baroque poets use "ethical" persuasion to win the approval of their audience even while they set themselves apart as exceptional. Horace is the classical model for Malherbe’s successful balance of persuasion and license, which in turn influences Theophile and Saint-Amant. I analyze their work on the basis of three main rhetorical traits: addressee, subject-matter, and style. What is Baroque about this poetry is its ostentatious eloquence in the service of an aristocratic patron.
Sigle auteur: Taormina 2002