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Title: The lives of Ovid : secrets, exile and galanterie in writing of the ‘Grand Siècle’
Author: Taylor, Helena
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This study examines the constructions and uses of the figure of Ovid in French writing of the second half of the seventeenth century, and explores how they were modulated by contemporary aesthetic and cultural concerns. As the influence of Ovid’s poetry made itself felt in various ways – in the mythopoeia of the Sun-King and the fashionable galant salons – interest in the story of Ovid’s life blossomed. This, I argue, was facilitated by new forms of ‘life-writing’, the nouvelle historique and histoire galante, and fuelled in unexpected ways by the escalating querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. Research has been done on the reception and influence of Ovid’s poetry in this period, but little attention has been paid to the figure of Ovid. This thesis offers a new perspective and, informed by recent renewed interest in life-writing, argues that analysis of biographical depictions is vital for establishing a coherent picture of the uses of Ovid in the ‘Grand Siècle’. I explore a diverse range of textual descriptions of Ovid (Vies; prefatory material attached to translations and editions of his work; correspondence; dialogues des morts; biographical dictionaries and historical novels), organized according to their different, though intersecting, ways of writing about this poet. He was constructed as a historical figure, an author, a fictional character and a ‘parallèle’ – a point of identification or contrast for contemporary writers. Through close analysis of a multi-authored corpus, this thesis identifies and examines two instances of paradox: though an ancient poet, Ovid became emblematic of 'Moderne' movements and was used to explore aspects of galanterie; and, though his creative work was mobilized in the service of royal propaganda, Ovid, as a figure for the exiled poet, was also used to express anxieties about the sway of power and the machinations and pitfalls of the world of the court.
Supervisor: Tunstall, Kate E. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; French ; Classical Reception ; Early modern Europe ; Ovid ; 17th-Century French Literature ; History and Criticism ; Life-writing ; Galanterie ; La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes ; Pierre Bayle and Historiography ; Madame de Villedieu ; Anne de la Roche-Guilhen ; Bussy-Rabutin.