In 1658, near what is traditionally considered the end of the Renaissance, the French lawyer, abbé, and littérateur Antoine Furetière published a remarkable little book, the Nouvelle allégorique ou Histoire des derniers troubles arrivez au royaume d'Eloquence (Allegorical novella, or The history of the late troubles that occurred in the Kingdom of Eloquence). Although best known today for his novel the Roman bourgeois, Furetière also composed satires and spent years compiling a dictionary of the French language. Of all his works, however, the Nouvelle allégorique was the most famous during his life, and because of its flattering treatment of the Académie Française, it is credited with having paved the way for his entry into that institution. Both a literary work and a rhetoric text, the Nouvelle is a telling illustration of the political nature of rhetoric: in it Eloquence is a kingdom, Rhétorique its queen, and her sister Poésie the monarch of an adjacent realm. Rhétorique rules with the aid of her prime minister, Bon Sens, relying--as rhetoric is said to do throughout the Renaissance--on adresse, or "skill" (7), more than physical "force," to ensure obedience. Nevertheless, a sentence that alludes to the Hercules Gallicus dramatizes the power, indeed the violence, involved: "She never used any other violence against her subjects except to send them her great provost named Persuasion, with a company of beautiful words, his archers, who dragged them chained by the ears with chains of gold and silk" (7). Moreover, although Queen Rhétorique is presented as anything other than a world conqueror-indeed, her enemies are characterized thus--her state nevertheless has an impe
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Publication information: Book title: The Emperor of Men's Minds: Literature and the Renaissance Discourse of Rhetoric. Contributors: Wayne A. Rebhorn - Author. Publisher: Cornell University Press. Place of publication: Ithaca, NY. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 197.
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