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La Poesie philosophique de Voltaire; Voltaire and the Temple of bad taste: a study of 'La Pucelle d'Orleans'
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La Poesie philosophique de Voltaire; Voltaire and the Temple of bad taste: a study of 'La Pucelle d'Orleans' (Hardback)

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I. Gwenaelle Boucher, La Poesie philosophique de Voltaire

La poesie de Voltaire, desormais aussi decriee que sa philosophie, constitue un reel enjeu philosophique: le vers possede des vertus heuristiques relayant la raison lorsque celle-ci achoppe sur une difficulte et la pensee se nourrit de la forme meme du poeme. Certes, Voltaire fait ses premieres armes poetiques dans la polemique, propageant en vers sa philosophie portative fondee sur l'allegorie militante ou le vers gnomique, au risque de voir ses vers-maximes inlassablement ressasses devenir cliches rhetoriques et lieux communs de la pensee. Mais avant d'etre actif, le vers philosophique voltairien est d'abord reactif, empreint des emotions du poete devant les astres ou les desastres terrestres. Ainsi, si la philosophie est la condition de la `vraie' poesie, ce sont peut-etre surtout les impuissances et les demissions philosophiques qui permettent l'expression poetique. Accedant a la poesie lorsque ses idees echouent a trouver des certitudes devant les incoherences du monde, Voltaire serait-il un poete de l'irrationnel?

II. Jennifer Tsien, Voltaire and the Temple of bad taste: a study of La Pucelle d'Orleans

Voltaire's mock-epic poem La Pucelle d'Orleans has delighted, offended, and baffled readers throughout the centuries. In addition to its calculated chaos of genre and style, the poem also contains an improbable number of episodic characters and subplots whose fantastic nature is worthy of Orlando furioso.

This study makes sense of La Pucelle d'Orleans by demonstrating the way in which it represents Voltaire's definition of bad writing, in view of his criticism and the literary debates of the period. In contrast to the classical ideal that Voltaire championed, his mock epic is filled with precisely those elements that he condemned in the works of other writers, including mixed genres, preciosite, vulgar language, magic, and grotesque metamorphoses.

La Pucelle d'Orleans shows us the underside of Voltaire's professed neoclassical aesthetics while allowing his readers to indulge in the pleasures of bad taste.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: generalLiterary studies: c 1500 to c 1800 Publisher: Liverpool University Press Publication Date: 01/05/2003 ISBN-13: 9780729408172  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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