Bussy-Rabutin's Positioning of ‘Postérité’
Early Modern French Studies
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
© The Society for Seventeenth-Century French Studies 2018.
This article will examine the strategic use of the term ‘postérité’ in the process of authorial self-fashioning. It will explore how Bussy-Rabutin (1618-93), the disgraced and exiled maître de camp turned mémorialiste, used appeals to postérité to restore his reputation and obtain Louis XIV’s forgiveness. Bussy self-consciously deployed the idea of ‘postérité’ to affect his present circumstances: using the judgement of posterity as a weapon, Bussy hoped to persuade the King to act in the present, as the more Bussy praised Louis XIV, the worse the latter would appear to future readers if he did not reprieve Bussy’s sentence of exile. Bussy’s call to ‘postérité’ thus sets the power of the writer’s word against the actions of the monarch. His use of this concept further serves his literary reputation by promoting the agency of his own work alongside other potential forms of memorialization, in particular the institutional ‘immortalité’ conferred by membership of the Académie Française. This very anticipation of future glory through textual means might secure Bussy’s reputation at the time of writing; but how effective is his rhetorical positioning of ‘postérité’ when – and if – it is encountered by the later readers it envisions?
Special issue of journal - Anticipated Afterlives: Envisaging Posterity in Early Modern France, edited by Jessica Goodman and Joseph Harris
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis (Routledge) via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 40 (1), pp. 50-62.