The Continental Model

The Continental Model: Selected French Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century in English Translation

Scott Elledge
Donald Schier
Copyright Date: 1960
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 416
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttt6zb
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  • Book Info
    The Continental Model
    Book Description:

    The pervasive influence of seventeenth-century French criticism upon eighteenth-century English criticism makes it important for students of English and comparative literature to be familiar with the most important of the French works. Professors Elledge and Schier bring together here, in translation, some of the best examples of the French essays. They have chosen particularly works that are not otherwise available in translation. Some of the translations are by contemporaries of the period. These are of works by d’Aubignac, Saint-Evremond, Huet, Rapin, Le Bossu, Bouhours, La Bruyere, and Fontenelle. Other selections have been translated by Professor Schier, and these include works of Chapelain, Sarasin, Scudery, Corneille, Bouhours, and Fontenelle. The editors provide brief and pertinent comment on each writer and his place in literary history. They have also annotated the essays in order to save time for the reader who encounters references to other literatures not immediately clear to him. The volume as a whole provides a comprehensive and balanced selection of critical texts which were known to, used by, and significant in their influence upon writers such as Dryden, Dennis, Addison, Swift, Pope, and others.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6226-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. 1623 LETTER OR DISCOURSE BY MONSIEUR CHAPELAIN TO MONSIEUR FAVEREAU, KING’S COUNSELLOR ON THE BOARD OF EXCISE, CONVEYING HIS OPINION OF THE POEM “ADONE” BY THE CHEVALIER MARINO
    (pp. 3-30)
    Jean Chapelain

    I already knew, both from you and the Chevalier Marino, that you had determined to assemble the learned and detailed observations you have made on his poemAdone, and I was overjoyed to think that since this fine work was about to appear, so rare a mind had taken the trouble to reveal subtly its riches and excellence, when I received in your letter the confirmation of what I had believed until then; but your letter is phrased in such a way that you seem to await my answer to learn whether I think such a critical appreciation is likely...

  4. 1646 ON THE READING OF THE OLD ROMANCES, DIALOGUE FOR MONSEIGNEUR JEAN-FRANCOIS-PAUL DE GONDY, ARCHBISHOP OF CORINTH AND COADJUTOR IN THE ARCHBISHOPRIC OF PARIS, LATER CARDINAL DE RETZ
    (pp. 31-54)
    Jean Chapelain

    You complain, my Lord, of not having been present at the conversation which Monsieur Ménage, Monsieur Sarasin, and I13had a few days ago on the reading of our old romances, and you show some regret that things were said there in your absence which one would not have expected so miserable a subject to call forth. What can I answer, except that there was never a more legitimate complaint? For indeed that diversion was owing to you for many reasons and among them because it began or at least it was conceived in your presence, during the journey we...

  5. 1639 DISCOURSE ON TRAGEDY OR REMARKS ON “TYRANNIC LOVE” BY MONSIEUR DE SCUDERY
    (pp. 55-79)
    Jean-Francois Sarasin

    TheAmour tyranniqueby Monsieur de Scudéry is so perfect and so finished a poem that if Time had not grudged to the age of Louis the Just the birth of Aristotle, or if Monsieur de Scudéry had written during the Alexandrian Empire, I really think the philosopher would have modeled a part of hisPoeticson that excellent tragedy and that he would have drawn from it examples as beautiful as those from theOedipus, which he particularly admired.

    Since this divine man, having noted all the faults of the Greek poets and reduced to rule what he found...

  6. 1654 PREFACE TO “ALARIC, OR ROME DEFEATED”
    (pp. 80-95)
    Georges de Scudery

    Since the epic poem is closely related in its construction to those ingenious fables we call novels, it is almost superfluous for me to speak of it here, especially since I have treated them rather fully in the foreword to myIllustrious Bassaand since, moreover, the happy success of this Grand Vizir and later that of theGreat Cyrushave sufficiently demonstrated, it seems to me, that I am not entirely ignorant of that kind of writing which I concern myself with sometimes. Nevertheless, since it might be that some who will read this poem have not seen these...

  7. 1657 THE WHOLE ART OF THE STAGE
    (pp. 96-116)
    FranÇois Hédelin and abbé d’Aubignac

    It may seem very rash, or at least superfluous, to treat of poetry after that so many authors both ancient and modern have given us books upon that subject full of learning, and more particularly have taken pains to make observations upon dramatic poetry as being the most agreeable and yet the hardest to succeed in. But if we may believe with Seneca that all truths have not been yet spoken, we may assure it in the subject which I undertake, for all I have seen yet that concerns the stage contains only the general maxims of dramatic poetry, which...

  8. 1660 OF THE THREE UNITIES OF ACTION, TIME, AND PLACE
    (pp. 117-131)
    Pierre Corneille

    The two preceding discourses and the critical examination of the plays which my first two volumes contain have furnished me so many opportunities to explain my thoughts on these matters that there would be little left for me to say if I absolutely forbade myself to repeat.

    I hold then, as I have already said, that in comedy, unity of action consists in the unity of plot or the obstacle to the plans of the principal actors, and in tragedy in the unity of peril, whether the hero falls victim to it or escapes. It is not that I claim...

  9. SELECTIONS FROM “THE WORKS OF M. DE SAINT-EVREMOND”
    (pp. 132-185)
    Charles de Saint-Evremond

    Since I have readThe Grand Alexander, the old age of Corneille does not so much alarm me, and I am not so apprehensive that the writing of tragedies will end with him.¹ However, I could wish that before his death he would adopt the author of this piece, and like a tender father give a right cast to the judgment of one who alone deserves to be his successor. I wish that he would give him a good taste of antiquity, which he enjoys to so much advantage; that he would make him enter into the genius of those...

  10. 1670 THE ORIGINAL OF ROMANCES
    (pp. 186-205)
    Pierre-Daniel Huet and Bishop of Avranches

    Though I think your curiosity very just, and that it is natural for a person who so perfectly understands the art of writing romances to be inquisitive into their original, yet I know not whether I may with equal justice undertake to satisfy that curiosity. I am without books, I have my head at present full of other matters, and I am not ignorant of the many difficulties wherewith such an inquiry must necessarily be attended. It is neither in Provence or Spain, as some have imagined, we are to trace out the beginnings of this agreeable amusement of a...

  11. 1671 THE BEL ESPRIT FROM “THE CONVERSATIONS OF ARISTO AND EUGENE”
    (pp. 206-227)
    Dominique Bouhours

    Eugene and Aristo began their walk with the reading of a work containing both prose and verse which one of their friends had recently composed. They read it attentively, as new things are always read; and after examining it at leisure they were both of the opinion that for a long time nothing had appeared which was wittier or more reasonable.

    A man must be very intelligent, said Eugene, to write the kinds of works in which witticisms glitter everywhere and in which there are no paste jewels.

    Intelligence alone is not enough, replied Aristo; a special kind is needed....

  12. 1671 THE JE NE SAIS QUOI FROM “THE CONVERSATIONS OF ARISTO AND EUGENE”
    (pp. 228-238)
    Dominique Bouhours

    When Aristo and Eugene had reached the place of their walk, they first gave expression to the joy they felt at passing such pleasant hours in each other’s company. Eugene said: Though we may be solitary, yet I am not envious of the most agreeable society in the world.

    Aristo thereupon said to his friend all those things which a warm friendship can suggest at such meetings; then, allowing his mind to rove wherever his heart might lead it, he said: It must be admitted, my dear Eugene, that there are few friendships like our own, for we can be...

  13. 1687 THE ART OF CRITICISM, OR THE METHOD OF MAKING A RIGHT JUDGMENT UPON SUBJECTS OF WIT AND LEARNING
    (pp. 239-274)
    Dominique Bouhours

    Eudoxus and Philanthus, who manage these following dialogues, are two scholars whom their learning has not spoiled, and whose breeding is equal to their learning. Though they had pursued the same studies and knew for the most part the same things, yet their characters are widely different. Eudoxus has a true relish, and nothing pleases him in ingenious discourses which is not reasonable and natural. He loves the ancients much, especially the authors of Augustus’s age, which in his opinion was the age of good sense. Cicero, Virgil, Livy, and Horace are his heroes.

    As for Philanthus, what is florid...

  14. 1674 REFLECTIONS ON ARISTOTLE’S TREATISE OF POESY IN GENERAL
    (pp. 275-292)
    Rene Rapin

    The true value of poetry is ordinarily so little known that scarce ever is made a true judgment of it. It is the talent of wits only that are above the common rank to esteem of it according to its merit, and one cannot consider how Alexander, Scipio, Julius Caesar, Augustus, and all the great men of antiquity have been affected therewith without conceiving a noble idea of it. In effect, poesy, of all arts, is the most perfect: for the perfection of other arts is limited, but this of poesy has no bounds; to be excellent therein one must...

  15. 1674 REFLECTIONS ON ARISTOTLE’S BOOK OF POESY IN PARTICULAR
    (pp. 293-302)
    Rene Rapin

    The epic poem is that which is the greatest and most noble in poesy; it is the greatest work that human wit is capable of. All the nobleness and all the elevation of the most perfect genius can hardly suffice to form one such as is requisite for an heroic poet; the difficulty of finding together fancy and judgment, heat of imagination and sobriety of reason, precipitation of spirit and solidity of mind, causes the rareness of this character and of this happy temperament which makes a poet accomplished; it requires great images and yet a greater wit to form...

  16. 1675 TREATISE OF THE EPICK POEM
    (pp. 303-323)
    Rene Le Bossu

    The fables of poets were originally employed in representing the Divine Nature according to the notion then conceived of it. This sublime subject occasioned the first poets to be called divines, and poetry the language of the gods. They divided the divine attributes into so many persons because the infirmity of a human mind cannot sufficiently conceive or explain so much power and action in a simplicity so great and indivisible as that of God. And, perhaps, they were also jealous of the advantages they reaped from such excellent and exalted learning, and of which they thought the vulgar part...

  17. 1687 OF POLITE LEARNING FROM “CHARACTERS”
    (pp. 324-338)
    Jean de La Bruyére

    We are come too late, after above seven thousand years that there have been men, and men have thought, to say anything which has not been said already. The finest and most beautiful thoughts concerning manners are carried away before us, and we can do nothing now but glean after the ancients and the most ingenious of the moderns.

    We must only endeavor to think and speak justly ourselves, without aiming to bring others over to our taste and sentiments. We shall find that too great an enterprise.

    To make a book is like making a pendulum: a man must...

  18. 1688 OF PASTORALS
    (pp. 339-357)
    Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle

    Of all kinds of poetry the pastoral is probably the most ancient, as the keeping of flocks was one of the first employments which men took up. It is very likely that these primitive shepherds, amidst the tranquility and leisure which they enjoyed, bethought themselves of singing their pleasures and their loves; and then their flocks, the woods, the springs, and all those objects that were most familiar to them, naturally came into the subject of their songs. They lived in great plenty after their way, without any control by superior power, being in a manner the kings of their...

  19. 1688 A DIGRESSION ON THE ANCIENTS AND THE MODERNS
    (pp. 358-370)
    Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle

    Once the whole question of the pre-eminence of the ancients and moderns is properly understood, it boils down to knowing whether the trees which used to be seen in the countryside were taller than those of today.17If they were, Homer, Plato, Demosthenes cannot be equaled in these latter centuries; but if our trees are as tall as those of former times, then we can equal Homer, Plato, and Demosthenes.

    Let us explain this paradox. If the ancients were more intelligent than we, the reason must be that brains in those days were better arranged, made of firmer or more...

  20. Notes
    (pp. 373-394)
  21. Index
    (pp. 395-406)