Ancients, moderns, gender: Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier’s Le Parnasse reconnoissant ou le triomphe de Madame Des-Houlières
French Studies: a quarterly review
Oxford University Press (OUP)
Reason for embargo
This article examines the relationship between the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes and the Querelle des femmes as it was articulated in Le Parnasse reconnoissant ou le triomphe de Madame Des-Houlières by Marie-Jeanne L’Héritier. Published in 1694 as a riposte to Boileau’s misogynist Satire X, the text contributes to the tradition of defences of women. However, L’Héritier deliberately inserts her rejoinder into the Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns; in so doing, she responds to another work by Boileau, the Dialogue des héros de roman. After establishing how different quarrels and concerns combine in Boileau’s two texts, this article suggests that L’Héritier consciously exploited the platform of ‘Ancients and Moderns’ to discuss women’s cultural practice. While this confirms the critical view that the two quarrels were interlinked, it also reveals a hierarchy of quarrels in which the Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns had greater capital: as such it proved useful for a woman entering the literary field. L’Héritier’s strategies demonstrate the complexities of being a Modern women writer, despite the typical alignment of these identities, and invite us to examine how this contemporary hierarchisation of quarrels has shaped their recent reception.
Published online 17 November 2016
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from OUP via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 71 (1): pp. 15-30.