The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature

By Eva Martin Sartori; Colette H. Winn et al. | Go to book overview

J

Jansenism. A rigorous Augustinianism which arose during the first half of the seventeenth century in opposition to an optimistic form of Counter-Reformation theology known as Molinism that minimized the consequences of original sin. In contrast, Corneille Jansen Augustinus ( 1640) found favor with groups that refused compromise with worldly values by insisting on the need for efficacious grace to overcome concupiscence.

In France, Jansen's proponent was an old friend, Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé of Saint-Cyran, who had become the spiritual director of Port-Royal*. Jansenism was attacked on two fronts. Jesuits found its penitential spirit and stress on the difficulty of achieving salvation too disheartening for average Christians. Furthermore, Louis XIV saw the Jansenists as an obstacle to his desire to subordinate foreign and domestic policy to the interests of the absolutist state.

Repeated royal and papal condemnation changed the focus of Jansenism over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Jansenists saw themselves as persecuted defenders of the truth, as upholders of the rights of the individual conscience against arbitrary authority. Women played a heroic role in this opposition, as seen in the accounts of captivity by nuns of Port-Royal who, like Angélique de Saint-Jean, were exiled to other convents* in 1664 for their refusal to sign the formulary. Their relations de captivité are among the most powerful texts written by nuns at that institution.

Port-Royal's austere devotion attracted the support of numerous sympathizers, not all of whom were, strictly speaking, Jansenists. Noble women such as Anne de Rohan*, the marquise de Sablé*, and the king's own cousin, the duchesse de Longueville, protected it. Mme de Lafayette* and Mme de S6vign6* also counted among its friends.

Jansenism's greatest contribution to women's learning was probably not the education* offered boarders at Port-Royal, which was much less innovative than the instruction given boys in the little schools. Rather, Jansenism promoted the

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The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Note x
  • A Feminist History of French Literature xi
  • Bibliography xv
  • Bibliography xx
  • Bibliography xxiii
  • Bibliography xxvi
  • Bibliography xxx
  • Bibliography xxxv
  • A 3
  • B 34
  • C 72
  • D 137
  • E 171
  • F 195
  • G 223
  • H 250
  • I 266
  • J 275
  • K 280
  • L 287
  • M 333
  • O 400
  • P 404
  • Q 447
  • R 451
  • S 483
  • T 524
  • V 542
  • W 554
  • Y 563
  • Appendix A: General Bibliography 567
  • Appendix B: Chronology of French Women Writers 573
  • Index 585
  • Contributors 631
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