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Descartes's FictionsReading Philosophy with Poetics$
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Emma Gilby

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831891

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831891.001.0001

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Responses to Balzac

Responses to Balzac

(p.65) 3 Responses to Balzac
Descartes's Fictions

Emma Gilby

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at how Balzac’s work is judged by his contemporaries to exceed the bounds of vivid, plausible, and persuasive discourse, and at how these concerns with novelty and individualism (concerns that also colour later critical responses to Descartes) are inseparable from the debates about tragicomedy discussed in Chapter 2. The poetic structures of contemporary debate—merging interest, variety, extravagance, plausibility, attentiveness, and belief—are precisely those that define the reception of Balzac’s letters. Only when we consider the demonstrative rhetoric of responses to Balzac’s work, notably the Apologie pour M. de Balzac and Jean Goulu’s Lettres de Phyllarque à Ariste, can we understand Descartes’s own apology for Balzac, the Censura. Close readings of all these texts are given.

Keywords:   apology, demonstrative rhetoric, Guez de Balzac, François Ogier, Jean Goulu, Censura

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