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In the King's Wake: Post-Absolutist Culture in France
by by Jay Caplan
Binding: Paperback, 1 edition, 213 pages
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
Dimension: H: 0.66 x L: 8.9 x W: 5.49 inches
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Long before the guillotines of the 1789 Revolution brought a grisly political end to the ancien r gime, Jay Caplan argues, the culture of absolutism had already perished. In the King's Wake traces the emergence of a post absolutist culture across a wide range of works and genres: Saint Simon's memoirs of Louis XIV and the Regency; Voltaire's first tragedy, Oedipe; Watteau's last great painting, L'Enseigne de Gersaint; the plays of Marivaux; and Casanova's History of My Life.
While absolutist culture had focused on value directly represented in people (e.g., those of noble blood) and things (e.g., coins made of precious metals), post absolutist culture instead explored the capacity of signs to stand for something real (e.g., John Law's banknotes or Marivaux's plays in which actions rather than birth signify nobility). Between the image of the Sun King and visions of the godlike Romantic self, Caplan discovers a post absolutist France wracked by surprisingly modern conflicts over the true sources of value and legitimacy.
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