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ERIC Number: ED547894
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 277
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-2673-4
Les Ambivalences du Silence: Les "Maximes" de la Rochefoucauld Par Quatre Chemins
Turcat, Eric
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Maxims are famous for their moral pronouncements, yet La Rochefoucauld's "Maximes" (1678) have become infamous for offering little moral guidance. Morally ambivalent at best, the "Maximes" are also less known for their other forms of ambivalence, whether rhetorical, psychological, anthropological or linguistic. Such are the four directions taken by this study to explore four of the most prevalent themes in La Rochefoucauld's masterpiece: honnete homme, amour-propre, love and fortune. Rhetorically, the "Maximes" seem to have been born of ambivalence, especially as they pertain to the key figure of irony, and especially as this irony applies to the definition of honnete homme. However, just as La Rochefoucauld's honnete homme finds a double in the form of the habile homme, the antiphrastic irony of his writing often spills into a number of figurative doubles, such as the bipolar structures of antithesis and ellipsis. Psychologically, La Rochefoucauld's personal obsession with amour-propre also translates into a complex web of "psychovectorial" ambivalences. By applying Hunter Shirley's theory of emotional ambivalences to the "Maximes," the second chapter demonstrates how amour-propre seldom functions as a pure emotion, but how it combines with a set number of fears and aggressions to reveal a far more complex characterization of human pride. Anthropologically, La Rochefoucauld reinforces his ambivalent clarity through "cooking up" a triangular discourse on love. Using Claude Levi-Strauss's "culinary triangle", the third chapter investigates how, despite a clear polarization between "putrid" forms of passion and more sophisticated or "cooked" forms of friendship, love in the "Maximes"prefers to dwell in the more ambivalent hinterlands of mixed love, one of which being "raw" libertinage. Linguistically speaking, the "Maximes" finally reach a climax of ambivalence in their systematic use of modalities, particularly as these modalities pertain to the discourse on fortune. Clearly, La Rochefoucauld seems loathe to dispel the providential influence of "destiny," but his definition of fortune appears to shift towards "accidents" or "chance" ("hasard"), not to mention skywards to the "stars" ("etoiles") of a more aristocratic compromise with death. In the end, La Rochefoucauld's complex ambivalences remain extremely reserved, as his "Maximes" seem to purposely fall into silence. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A