Madeleine de Scudéry Criticism - Essay

Caren Greenberg (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The World of Prose and Female Self-Inscription: Scudéry's Les Femmes illustres,” in L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. 23, No. 2, Summer 1983, pp. 37-44.

[In the following essay, Greenberg proposes that the literary culture of late seventeenth-century France was characterized by a kind of free play with social systems that enabled an active feminine authority. Focusing on Les Femmes illustres, the critic finds that Scudéry took this opportunity to write her own place in history.]

The use of language by educated groups such as libertines or precious writers during the baroque period reveals the uncertainty of changing codes and shifting referential...

(The entire section is 15963 words.)

Elizabeth C. Goldsmith (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “‘L'art de detourner les choses’: Sociability as Euphoria in Madeleine de Scudéry's Conversations,” in Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature, Vol. XIII, No. 24, 1986, pp. 17-24.

[In the following essay, Goldsmith examines Scudéry's Conversations in light of modern theories of sociability. She argues that, by establishing in this work a utopian arena for conversation set apart from social limitations, Scudéry enabled the creation of a conversational model that could be a new standard for society.]

The writings of Madeleine de Scudéry are often cited as textual enactments of seventeenth-century codes of politesse and...

(The entire section is 3839 words.)

Joan DeJean (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Politics of Genre: Madeleine de Scudéry and the Rise of the French Novel,” in L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. 29, No. 3, Fall 1989, pp. 43-51.

[In the following essay, DeJean argues that Artamène was a response to contemporary political events. As such, she suggests, Scudéry's work helps demonstrate how the novel as a genre was a response to the French political climate of the seventeenth century.]

Historians and literary historians have for some time asserted that the earliest types of prose fiction developed in 17th-century France played a central role “in the development and diffusion of feminist ideas.”1 Without exception, the...

(The entire section is 3921 words.)

James F. Gaines (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Lucrèce, Junie, and Clélie: Burdens of Female Exemplarity,” in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Western Society for French History, Vol. 17, 1990, pp. 515-23.

[In the following essay, Gaines compares Scudéry's rendering of violated feminine honor in Clélie with other contemporary French revisions of Livy's story of the rape of Lucretia. The critic suggests that by emphasizing the feelings and inner life of women, rather than the actions and honor of men, Scudéry grants women a greater power to shape both their own lives and history, and she helps clear the path for the modern psychological novel.]

Of all the Greco-Roman heroines that...

(The entire section is 5147 words.)

Harriet Stone (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Scudéry's Theatre of Disguise: The Orient in Ibrahim,” in L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. 32, No. 3, 1992, pp. 51-61.

[In the following essay, Stone maintains that the Orient depicted in Ibrahim “is the medium through which the European (hero and reader alike) comes to understand himself and to know his place in the world. … The Orient thus serves as a theater for the European's play, a device used to display him to himself.”]

It is hardly surprising that Scudéry's Ibrahim (1641), despite a verisimilar and largely favorable description of Turkish history and culture, depicts an Orient more European—serving the Western world...

(The entire section is 4639 words.)

Ruth Carver Capasso (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Sun, Veil and Maze: Mlle de Scudéry's Parthenie” in Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature, Vol. XX, No. 38, 1993, pp. 97-111.

[In the following essay, Capasso analyzes the character of Parthenie in Artamène, utilizing techniques derived from “constructivist” psychology, an approach, she maintains, that approximates seventeenth-century understanding of character.]

Mlle de Scudéry is best known for her analyses of love in the abstract, as illustrated by the famous “Carte du Tendre,” and for her creation of certain famous characters or types, such as Sapho and Mandane in Artamène. Yet her work in creating individual...

(The entire section is 6662 words.)

Patricia Hannon (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Desire and Writing in Scudéry's ‘Histoire de Sapho,’” in L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. 35, No. 2, Summer 1995, pp. 37-50.

[In the following essay, Hannon illuminates Scudéry's depiction of desire in her “Histoire de Sapho,” from Artamène. Employing the insights of the twentieth-century French feminist Hélène Cixous, Hannon explores how Scudéry's writing about the female body in her amatory fiction imagines a place of greater freedom for women.]

Scudéry scholarship often focuses on her 1654 novel Clélie, which contains the “Carte de Tendre,” the best known of the many amorous geographies in vogue during the second half of the...

(The entire section is 5789 words.)

Anne E. Duggan (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Lovers, Salon, and State: La Carte de Tendre and the Mapping of Socio-Political Relations,” in Dalhousie French Studies, Vol. 36, Fall 1996, pp. 15-22.

[In the following essay, Duggan argues that the social model Scudéry put forth in La Carte de Tendre applied not only to romantic interactions, but also to political concerns. Focusing on the structure of the French salons, Duggan suggests that Scudéry and other salonniers created a kind of utopian society in which the women were free to re-create themselves without regard to the limitations of either gender stereotypes or socio-economic status.]

The Carte de Tendre remains as...

(The entire section is 4171 words.)

Leonard Hinds (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Literary and Political Collaboration: The Prefatory Letter of Madeleine de Scudéry's Artamène, ou le Grand Cyrus,” in Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature, Vol. XXIII, No. 45, 1996, pp. 491-500.

[In the following essay, Hinds asserts that the “ambiguous authorial figure” adumbrated in Scudéry's dedicatory letter to the Duchess de Longueville preceding Artamène models an alternative to absolutist political leadership.]

The prefatory letter of Artamène, ou le Grand Cyrus (1649-1653) treats the politically charged figure of the Duchesse de Longueville by means of literary investment performed by an ambiguous authorial...

(The entire section is 4378 words.)

Jane Donaworth (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “‘As Becomes a Rational Woman to Speak’: Madeleine de Scudéry's Rhetoric of Conversation,” in Listening to Their Voices: The Rhetorical Activities of Historical Women, edited by Molly Meijer Wertheimer, University of South Carolina Press, 1997, pp. 305-19.

[In the following essay, Donaworth focuses on Scudéry's art of conversation, arguing that her rhetorical skill granted her more social freedom than was usual for a woman of her time, and that it created a model for other women.]

Madeleine de Scudéry, the most popular novelist of seventeenth-century Europe, was also, I shall argue, a rhetorical theorist. She was the first of a series of women in the...

(The entire section is 6120 words.)

Robert Nunn (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Rape of Lucretia in Madeleine de Scudéry's Clélie,” in Violence et fiction jusqu'à la Révolution, edited by Martine Debaisieux and Gabrille Verdier, Gunter Narr Verlag, 1998, pp. 245-49.

[In the following essay, Nunn examines Scudéry's adaptations of Livy's story of the rape of Lucretia, both in Les femmes illustres and in Clélie. The critic finds that Scudéry's presentation of the rape is restrained by the culture of polite society that suffuses her historical novels.]

The rape of Lucretia by Sextus Tarquin and her subsequent suicide is one of the most well-known legends of antiquity. Over the centuries it has inspired...

(The entire section is 2142 words.)