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The ClassicSainte-Beuve and the Nineteenth-Century Culture Wars$
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Christopher Prendergast

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215850.001.0001

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Latinity and the Second Renaissance

Latinity and the Second Renaissance

(p.89) 4 Latinity and the Second Renaissance
The Classic

Christopher Prendergast (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The strong — and, on occasion, even exclusive — association of the term ‘classic’ with the works of classical antiquity was particularly marked in the second half of the 18th century. This issue emerged most pressingly in the educational debates over the value of teaching Latin in the schools. French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve characteristically reached for the middle ground, but not without making a passionate plea for the sanctity of the classics. In respect of the specifically educational debate, it is clear that Sainte-Beuve has something in common with the bizarre Frederic Bastiat, an anxiety about the role of the classics in a society that has recently undergone the experience of popular insurrection. Sainte-Beuve, of course, could not conceivably have drawn Bastiat's perversely bizarre conclusion; his was the exact opposite — namely, that the study of the classics has a reparative function, essential to the orderly running of a society previously shaken to its foundations.

Keywords:   Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, classic, Latin, France, educational debates, Latinity, culture, comparative philology

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