Port-Royal, an anthology presented by Laurence Plazenet

Laurence Plazenet, lecturer at Paris IV Sorbonne and specialist in 17th century French literature offers us a remarkable work. Port-Royal An anthology is more than a simple anthology and makes available to the public rare and difficult to access texts. This book is certainly intended to be a reference for anyone who is interested in this abbey or who would like to work on the subject.

A dive into the heart of a unique 17th century abbey

Port-Royal is a major place of 17th century French culture. This modest abbey became during the 17th century one of the beacons of French culture. Blaise Pascal or Racine are prestigious names linked to this place. However on October 29, 1709, this abbey was razed by royal decision. If it is demolished, it is because it posed two problems. A flagship of classicism in a world that is becoming baroque, it could only be an obstacle or a brake on the will of the Sun King, who intended to make Versailles and his court a permanent world of celebration. The flagship of the Tridentine Catholic reform and the center of a demanding Augustinian spirituality, it is therefore very closely attached to the turbulent history of French Jansenism fought against by the papacy and royalty.

Texts to immerse the reader in the heart of Port-Royal

After a very careful introduction that allows the reader to fully understand the issues and the importance of the abbey, the author publishes many difficult texts. Some were difficult to access because they were published only in scientific editions or had remained in manuscript state. One of the author’s biases is not to publish just extracts but complete texts most of the time. This explains the thickness of the book. Each text is introduced by a complete and annotated notice for the greatest pleasure of demanding readers.

The themes addressed in this book are numerous and varied. After'Summary of the history of Port-Royal, the second part of the work collects descriptions of the life of the abbey. The Solitaires (men who retired from the world in Port-Royal without entering into orders) and the Small Schools are not forgotten. The third part is devoted to the actors of this abbey through the many lives of important secular personalities of the 17th century (the Duke and Duchess of Liancourt, Blaise Pascal, the Duchess of Luynes and the Princess of Conti among others). The fourth part collects the lives of clerics. The fifth part dwells on the abbey at the time of the struggles: interrogations, captive relations and the famous Act of the nuns of Port-Royal of August 28, 1665 which seals their opposition to the Form are made available to the reader. The end of Port-Royal is evoked in a sixth part, while the seventh and final part dwells on the spiritual production of this place throughout the Grand Siècle. These different parts make it possible to appreciate the importance of this place in the 17th century but also to focus on the daily life of its occupants. The set of themes chosen ultimately paints a fairly comprehensive picture of this abbey.

The clarity of the instructions and explanations but also the quality of the texts chosen make this book an essential book if you want to know more about the abbey of Port Royal and all that surrounds it. No aspect of the life of this abbey is overlooked. It is therefore warmly thatStory For All recommends this anthology that allows you to rediscover the voices of Port-Royal.

PLAZENET Laurence, Port-Royal, an anthology presented by Laurence Plazenet, Flammarion, Paris, 2012

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