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Title: Mises en scène de la favorite dans la littérature du "Grand Siècle" (1665-1715)
Author: Auboyneau, Garance
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This study enquires into the construction of a cultural fantasy, the favorite (or royal mistress), in the reign of Louis XIV (1661-1715), and aims to explore the kinds of narrative, the 'scénario pour l’imaginaire', articulated around this figure. A process of crystallization in respect of the favorite, both as word and as literary figure, develops across the late seventeenth century. This process is on the one hand fuelled by the increasing prominence of female favouritism as a political practice during the period, and on the other facilitated by the emergence of new privileged media such as the novel and the 'nouvelle historique'. The favorite, as a new incarnation of the ‘femme forte’, becomes a trope by which anxieties can be expressed: about female power, but also about the monarchy in general. This thesis advances by way of close readings and studies of vast corpora of texts; it alternates – both within and between chapters – between analysis and synthesis. Following the introduction, the first chapter introduces a set of mental landmarks, both semantic and axiological, and explores the dictionaries, treatises and courtly manuals of the time in search of the favorite. The second chapter focuses on the fiction of the 1660s and 1670s, and questions the way in which these texts established elements of definition and recurrent issues related to the staging of the favorite in this period. The third chapter considers the representation of Louis XIV's mistresses, principally through a study of the ballets, poems, letters, memoirs, satires and pamphlets concerned with the Sun King's loves. Its object is to show how the favorite is inserted into the royal mythology. The fourth chapter is dedicated to the first text explicitly and exclusively devoted to the favorite: the Histoire des Favorites (1697) by Anne de La Roche-Guilhen. This chapter attempts to bring to light the tensions underlying the text, while interrogating the determining role of this collection in the process of crystallization explored throughout the thesis. The fifth chapter sketches out the afterlife of the favorite under Louis XV and Louis XVI, and describes the principal evolutions which ensured her survival in the collective imagination.
Supervisor: Viala, Alain; Williams, Wes Sponsor: Zaharoff Graduate Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: French ; Dramatic arts ; Literature (non-English) ; favorite ; favourite ; Louis XIV ; royal mistresses ; France