Biography in Early Modern France 1540-1630
Forms and Functions

Katherine MacDonald

Research Monographs in French Studies 23

Legenda

14 November 2007  •  126pp

ISBN: 978-1-905981-11-3 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

RenaissanceFrenchLife-Writing


When the famous Royal Professor of Philosophy and Eloquence Petrus Ramus (1515-1572) gave a lecture, one of his most promising pupils stood by, ready to tug on his coat if he made a mistake. That pupil was Ramus's future biographer, the much less famous Nicolas de Nancel (1539-1610), who recounted this anecdote in his Vita Rami (1599). Nancel's insertion of himself into his life of Ramus is typical of early modern biographies of men of letters. As biographer, the humanist man of letters situated himself within the same cultural field as his subject, thereby accrediting himself as a fellow man of letters by his display of humanistic competence. The first study of monograph lives of men of letters in sixteenth-century France, this ground-breaking book offers valuable insights into biography's role as a form of social and cultural negotiation geared to advance the biographer's career.

Reviews:

  • ‘This useful monograph presents five case studies of Early Modern biographies (including one autobiography)... MacDonald's work frames these two well-known texts in such a way as to encourage continued investigation of Renaissance biography as a fully-fledged prose genre.’Forum for Modern Language Studies April 2009, 226)
  • ‘The first perspective [in this book] situates biography as a genre belonging to antique epideictic rhetoric... The second is the narrative of what might be called the facts of biographical life... The third is what could be called a concetto, that is, the biographer's own life perspective, conscious or unconscious, in the biography he is writing. This is what really interests Katherine MacDonald, because of her own radical-individualist perspective on relations between the biographer and his subject.’ — Orest Ranum, Renaissance Quarterly 62, 2009, 229-31
  • ‘Elegantly written, clearly argued, and erudite, this is a rewarding and thought-provoking book and a valuable contribution to the study of early modern French humanism.’ — Joan Davies, Modern Language Review 105.1, January 2010, 241-42 (full text online)
  • ‘Interesting and original interpretations of biographies in which reading between the lines was every bit as important as the lines themselves.’ — John Lewis, French Studies 64.2, April 2010
  • ‘An interesting and thought-provoking study which is well worth reading, albeit with a grain of salt.’ — Sarah Nelson, Biography 32.4, Fall 2009, 840-42

Bibliography entry:

MacDonald, Katherine, Biography in Early Modern France 1540-1630: Forms and Functions, Research Monographs in French Studies, 23 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007)

First footnote reference: 35 Katherine MacDonald, Biography in Early Modern France 1540-1630: Forms and Functions, Research Monographs in French Studies, 23 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 MacDonald, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

MacDonald, Katherine. 2007. Biography in Early Modern France 1540-1630: Forms and Functions, Research Monographs in French Studies, 23 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (MacDonald 2007: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 MacDonald 2007: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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