Cynic Shamelessness in Late Sixteenth-Century French Texts
University of Exeter. At the time of publication the author was at Oxford Brookes University
The Modern Language Review
Modern Humanities Research Association
This article examines the diverse responses elicited by ancient Cynicism's sexual shamelessness in a wide range of sixteenth-century French texts. The outrageous performance of the Cynics, including public sex and masturbation, was always designed to provoke questioning of civilized norms. Many texts express disgust at the antics of Diogenes and his followers. The facetious dialogues of Bouchet and Cholières treat the topic of shamelessness euphemistically. In contrast, Montaigne, in 'L'Apologie de Raimond Sebond', seriously considers the Cynic challenge to normative values, and suggests that Cynicism's commitment to nature shows that the normal definitions of vice and virtue should be inverted, in a daring example of paradiastole.