Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

June 2005


Published in Intersections: Actes du 35° congres annuel de la North American Society for Seventeenth Century French Literature. Dartmouth College 8-11 mai 2003. Edites par Faith Beasley et Kathleen Wine. Tubingen: Biblio 17, Band 161 (2005), pages 307-15. (ISBN: 3-8233-6153-8)Copyright 2005 Gunter Narr Verlag.
Used by permission.


Joan DeJean's recent book, The Reinvention of Obscenity, brings front and center issues of filth and impiety as they relate to cultural norms. DeJean's assertion that "Paris was the center for the production of dirty books and dirty pictures” in the Early Modern period underscores the extent to which obscene literature becomes a cultural referent, either open or clandestine. While her focus is on obscenity as it relates to the neo- Classical era, DeJean emphasizes that the Baroque period also contributed to the "reinvention" of smut that characterized a distinct element of literary and artistic production during the seventeenth century. She concentrates on Théophile de Viau, and mentions works such as the Le Cabinet satyrique (1618), and the Le Parnasse des poètes satyriques (1622). These volumes, containing bawdy offerings from the likes of Théophile (1590-1626). Mathurin Régnier (1573-1613), and Guillaume Colletet (1588-1641) among others, cotitribute to what Louis Perceau terms "la magnifique floraison satyrique" (p. 4) of the libertine era.