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The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe: Encounters with a Certain Something

Richard Scholar


This book studies the je-ne-sais-quoi and its fortunes in early modern Europe. It examines the expression's rise and fall as a keyword and as a topic of debate, its cluster of meanings, and the scattered traces of its pre-history. It focuses on the je-ne-sais-quoi during the key period 1580-1680 but strays on either side of these limits to trace the expression's precursors and its later fortunes. The je-ne-sais-quoi is now assumed to be a quintessentially French phenomenon, but in the early modern period it also marks the cultures of France's neighbours, and this is reflected in the book's inc ... More

Keywords: France, explanation, literature, natural philosophy, passions, interdisciplinarity, first-person experience

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780199274406
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274406.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Richard Scholar, author
Fellow and Tutor in French, Oriel College, Oxford
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