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shepherd-and-shepherdess-reposing-1761 (2)

Shepherd and Shepherdess Reposing par François Boucher, 1761 (wikiart.org)


My last post did not contain a conclusion, but an earlier post did. I noted two themes to which I will add a third.

  1. love as jealousy.
  2. marriage as enslavement and death.
  3. galanterie.

Molière knew the condition of women and expressed it in a very direct yet discrete manner in his Amants magnifiques and Princesse d’Élide.

The manner in which Molière describes the condition of women does not separate men from women. Iphitas, the princess’ father reassures his daughter. He will not force her to marry a man she does not love. He wants her to marry a man she loves and to be happy. Could one of the three princes he has invited to Élide be the man she loves?

Both the princess and Euryale fall in love the moment they meet, before Act One. However, Euryale tricks her into discovering that she loves him. If he were too direct, he would lose her. The stratagems he uses are feigned indifference and jealousy. That’s marivaudage, but it is not rude; it is refined. When he discovers that she loves him, he tells her how much he loves her and that he is ready to wait, which is not a stratagem, but galanterie, the art of love, and finesse. She must learn that he can be trusted and that he will protect her.

Making love will be consensual and it will not always lead to a pregnancy. Fear of yet another pregnancy can easily end a woman’s wish to engage in sexual intercourse. What is there for a man to gain? And if there is pregnancy, he should be with her. That’s galanterie.

Molière did not write books on galanterie. But the topic has been discussed since Greco-Roman antiquity. Latin poet Catullus (c. 84 – c. 54 BCE) wrote erotic poetry and inspired poet Ovid, the author of an Ars Amatoria, (The Art of Love, pdf) as well as Virgil. We must also mention Petrarch’s Laura. Moreover, who does not know Tristan et Yseult, Arthurian romances, Knights in shining armour, Héloïse and Abélard. Courtly love, troubadours and trouvères, Pierre de Ronsard‘s Sonnets pour Hélène, and its carpe diem, as well as various love poems, sonnets in particular. Sorel’s Loix de la galanterie (1664), Mademoiselle de Scudéry‘s Carte de Tendre, a map of love, and other works.

We now entering Watteau‘s fêtes galantes, galanterie, and marivaudage, refinement cultivated in the salons of the seventeenth century, une préciosité nouvelle.


Love to everyone 💕

Boucher - Bergere

Bergère rêvant par François Boucher

© Micheline Walker
16 October 2019