Porter, Annette Herdman (1966)
The satirical eulogy in the literature of the French Renaissance.
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This thesis traces the history and development of the literary genre known as the satirical eulogy or paradoxical encomium, which flourished in France during the Renaissance. The first chapter investigates the origins of the genre and its widespread use in Greek and Latin literature. Particular attention is paid to Lucian, whose influence was important when the genre was revived. Between the end of antiquity and the fifteenth century there is virtually no trace of it, and so the next chapter passes straight to Erasmus' Moriae Encomium. A section on other, less famous Neo-Latin eulogies is followed by one on the various Italian manifestations of the genre. The second part of the thesis attempts to show how these diverse ingredients were combined in different ways at different stages to make the French satirical and ironical encomia. There had always been three main types of eulogy, each typified by one of Lucian's works. These categories were, broadly speaking, the praise of a vice, the praise of a disease or physical defect, and that of an unpleasant or insignificant animal or insect. French Renaissance eulogies also tended to fall into one of these categories and are therefore discussed in three groups. Of especial importance throughout are the numerous other literary forms, such as the 'blason' the 'hymne-blason', the epitaph and the paradox which modified and were modified by the classical genre. The conclusion suggests, tentatively, some of the reasons for what the thesis has shown to be a European, rather than a purely French phenomenon, the rise of a genre so popular as to appeal to writers of genius as dissimilar in temperament as Erasmus, Rabelais and Ronsard.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).