SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 2 - October 22, 2005

AUSTEN: Byron on the Beeb - "A Jane Austen Satyricon" inter text ON-LINE ARTICLE: Low-life lit; inter text LINGUET: karl Marx and Poe inter text

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
ROYALTY: why "dauphin"

AUSTEN: Byron on the Beeb - "A Jane Austen Satyricon"

Jane Austen and Lord Byron may not be the most natural pairing:

Promos for "Byron," a biographical movie about Lord Byron, suggest a Regency comedy of manners, but actually the poet's story is a bit smuttier than "Pride and Prejudice." This BBC production is more like a Jane Austen "Satyricon".

In her review -"The Dissolute Lifestyle of a Charmer and a Poet"- of the BBC's production, Alexandra Stanley conveniently provided a link to our era: "When Lady Melbourne (Vanessa Redgrave) first points out Miss Milbanke as a young woman in search of a husband, he retorts, "Could she not find one in Jane Austen?" (This could be a scriptwriter's revenge on Austen, who referred to Byron several times in "Persuasion," not entirely flatteringly.) "

The review is at:

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ON-LINE ARTICLE: Low-life lit;

I happened on this article this week: "The counter-Enlightenment and the low-life of literature in pre-Revolutionary France":

Over a quarter of a century ago Robert Darnton published in the pages of this journal an article that has since become a classic: `The High Enlightenment and the Low-Life of Literature in Pre-Revolutionary France'.(1) Noting there that the `summit view of Eighteenth-Century intellectual history ha[d] been described so often and so well', Darnton ventured demurely that it `might be useful to strike out in a new direction'. He proposed `digging downward', viewing the Enlightenment from the bottom where a motley crew of Grub Street hacks had once toiled in obscurity, only to be subsequently buried in the accumulated dust of the French national archives.

Astute readers will note that the article is hosted at Unlike many other archives of this sort (especially those one tends to find via, Find Articles includes a wealth of FREE articles, many very interesting. A search on our period:

yields hours of potential reading (as well as a number of irrelevant articles). This is just one: "Best-sellers and gossip-mongers in 18th-century France - communication systems under Louis XV's rule - How Ideas Travel":

It would be a mistake to think that the England of Samuel Johnson, the France of Diderot and the Germany of Goethe formed part of a media-free civilization. Their world buzzed with a communication network every bit as dense as ours. It was merely different - so different that most of its media have been forgotten.
For art lovers, it turns out there's a whole column - I'm sure some people know it - on art in our period that reoccurs often here: "18th century AD":

In recent years the study of the decorative arts, particularly glass, ceramics, and metalwork, has benefited enormously from archaeological excavations carried out on land and beneath the ocean floor. Yet, for the most part, the resulting artifacts are of interest only to a relatively small number of professionals in the field. A much larger wave was made when two great archaeological digs of the eighteenth century uncovered the ancient Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii in 1738 and 1748, respectively.

In France, genre painting was a branch of art only grudgingly acknowledged until it came into its own in the eighteenth century.

In discussing the work of Giambattista Tiepolo it has become commonplace to employ terminology that suggests some kind of affinity between his paintings and the stage. Often, the intent is one of analogy. Such is the case for Antonio Morassi in likening Tiepolo's frescoes in the Kaisersaal of the Residenz in Wurzburg (Fig. 1) to staged scenes in which the curtains have been drawn back (the curtains framing Tiepolo's frescoes are in stucco). [1] At other times the purpose is to imply a degree of artificiality or dramatic expressivity in his work.

And with that I leave you to explore...

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LINGUET: Karl Marx and Poe

I've mentioned Henri Linguet more than once on the list, most recently in regard to my reissue of his
Memoirs of the Bastille. Interesting to find Karl Marx quoting him, and pretty accurately summarizing Linguet's stance, saying that he gives his ideas ”—half-seriously, half-ironically— a reactionary appearance":
||438| Linguet, Théorie des lois civiles, etc., Londres, 767.

In accordance with the plan of my work socialist and communist writers are entirely excluded from the historical reviews. These reviews are only intended to show on the one hand in what form the political economists criticised each other, and on the other hand the historically determining forms in which the laws of political economy were first stated and further developed. In dealing with surplus-value I therefore exclude such eighteenth-century writers as Brissot, Godwin and the like, and likewise the nineteenth-century socialists and communists. The few socialist writers whom I shall come to speak of in this survey either themselves adopt the standpoint of bourgeois economy or contest it from its own standpoint.

Linguet however is not a socialist. His polemics against the bourgeois-liberal ideals of the Enlighteners, his contemporaries, against the dominion of the bourgeoisie that was then beginning, are given—half-seriously, half-ironically—a reactionary appearance. He defends Asiatic despotism against the civilised European forms of despotism; thus he defends slavery against wage-labour.

Vol. I. The only statement directed against Montesquieu: l’esprit des lois, c’est la propriété,* shows the depth of his outlook.

The only economists whom Linguet found to deal with were the Physiocrats.

The rich have taken possession of all the conditions of production; [hence] the alienation of the conditions of production, which in their simplest form are the natural elements themselves.

“In our civilised countries, all the elements [of nature] are slaves” ([Linguet, Théorie des lois civiles…, Londres, 1767], p. 188).

In order to get hold of some of this wealth appropriated by the rich, it must be purchased with heavy labour, which increases the wealth of these rich persons....

More at:

It's rather eery - given my involvement with them both - to see that Poe mentioned him as well:

Mill says that he has "demonstrated" his propositions. Just in the same way Anaxagoras demonstrated snow to be black, (which, perhaps, it is, if we could see the thing in the proper light,) and just in the same way the French advocate, Linguet, with Hippocrates in his hand, demonstrated bread to be a slow poison. The worst of the matter is that propositions such as these seldom stay demonstrated long enough to be thoroughly understood.
Edgar A. Poe - Marginal Notes (I) - A sequel to the "Marginalia" of the Democratic Review -

I was also late to notice that the Voltaire Foundation will be putting Linguet's correspondence on-line at some point: "We are also helping prepare for publication electronic editions of the correspondences of Linguet and of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, both of which will be integrated into the Electronic Enlightenment in due course."

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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

ROYALTY: Why 'dauphin'

One of the minor questions that may cross many minds reading on Old Regime France is: why was the crown prince called the 'Dolphin'? Turns out Gallica has a whole piece (not very long) on exactly that: Auguste Prudhomme, Auguste - De l'origine et du sens des mots Dauphin et Dauphiné, et de leur rapport avec l'emblême du dauphin en Dauphiné, en Auvergne et en Forez.

The work is 28 pages long and was published in 1893.

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End quote

To see what I've lost makes me see what I have, and what I've gained.

Actor Michael J. Fox on living with Parkinson's

Lest that seem too noble.... he also tells his children it's a gift: "the gift that keeps on taking."

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
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