Preciosity

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Preciosity

 

(in French, Préciosité), an aristocratic trend in French baroque literature of the 17th century, related to Italian Marinism and Spanish Gongorism.

Preciosity arose in society salons, of which the best known was the hôtel of the Marquise de Rambouillet, the center of the literary Fronde against absolutism. Such poets as V. Voiture, I. de Benserade, and F. de Boisrobert celebrated chivalrous love affairs and petty episodes from society life in madrigals, sonnets, rondeaux, and epistles, using affected metaphors, artificial allegories, periphrasis, and plays on words.

One of the genres of preciosity was the chivalrous heroic novel, which developed under the influence of the moral and ethical code of H. d’Urfé’s novel L’Astrée. Such writers as M. L. R. de Gomberville, G. de Costes de la Calprenède, and Madeleine de Scudéry took themes chiefly from the history of classical Greece, Rome, and the ancient East, embodying idealized personages from the French nobility in heroes of the past. The main features of this type of novel were the hero’s royal origins, a plot of love and adventure, and an excessively refined style. Related to these novels are the narrative poems Alaric (1654) by G. de Scudéry, D. de Saint-Sorlin’s Clovis, and J. Chapelain’s The Maid. Preciosity in dramaturgy is represented by G. de Scudéry and Ph. Quinault. Preciosity was criticized by N. Boileau; Molière satirized its mores and poets in his comedies The Affected Young Ladies and The Bluestockings.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 372–77.
Mongrédien, G. Les Précieux et les précieuses. Paris, 1939.

V. S. LOZOVETSKII