In the King's Wake: Post-Absolutist Culture in France
Long before the guillotines of the 1789 Revolution brought a grisly political end to the ancien régime, Jay Caplan argues, the culture of absolutism had already perished. In the King's Wake traces the emergence of a post-absolutist culture across a wide range of works and genres: Saint-Simon's memoirs of Louis XIV and the Regency; Voltaire's first tragedy, Oedipe; Watteau's last great painting, L'Enseigne de Gersaint; the plays of Marivaux; and Casanova's History of My Life.
While absolutist culture had focused on value directly represented in people (e.g., those of noble blood) and things (e.g., coins made of precious metals), post-absolutist culture instead explored the capacity of signs to stand for something real (e.g., John Law's banknotes or Marivaux's plays in which actions rather than birth signify nobility). Between the image of the Sun King and visions of the godlike Romantic self, Caplan discovers a post-absolutist France wracked by surprisingly modern conflicts over the true sources of value and legitimacy.
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absolutist action aesthetic amour-propre Antoine Watteau Araminte Araminte's Arouet de Voltaire artistic audience bastards Besterman Casanova CEdipe Celimene chap characters claim context Corneille Corneille's D'Arouet a Voltaire d'Orleans death Deguy desire display Dorante's Dubois duc d'Orleans duc de Saint-Simon edition emphasis added Enseigne fact father fausses confidences fete galante France French genre Giacomo Casanova gold historical honor Ibid illegitimacy illegitimate Jocaste John Law's jouissance Kavanagh king's portrait L'Enseigne de Gersaint lady Laius Law's legitimacy legitimate lit de justice Louis Marin Louis XIV Marivaux Marton memoirs Minority lit mirror Miss Murphy Moureaux nobility noble notes O-Morphi Oedipus Paris Parlement performance Philoctete Pierre Pierre Corneille play pleasure poet political Pomeau post-absolutist culture prince regent representation royal Saint-Simon scene semiotic signboard social speculation Sun King Theatre theatrical tion translation modified Vidal viewer Watteau's Paintings words XIV's