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The Splendid Century: Life in the France of…

The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV (1953)

by W. H. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This is an anthology of essays, exactly as the title block states, about some aspects of mostly court life in the time of Louis XIV. The book is competently written and was about as long as i wished to read about those topics of seventeenth century life. As a side note this is one of the two books written by C.S. Lewis' brother and long term housemate. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 28, 2018 |
The Splendid Century seemed to me wittily written. I had come to it expecting to be bored but was greatly entertained; and although my sympathies have never been with King Louis XIV, I found myself admiring his kingliness.
Other profiles are good. For instance, of Mme. de Maintenon, Warnie H. Lewis writes, "Charming she was, according to testimony that cannot be set aside. But, unlike her great contemporary, Mme. de Sévigné, she has not been able to communicate that volatile and evanescent quality to her equally voluminous correspondence. Mme. de Sévigné was a virtuous woman, but she is not constantly telling us so; Mme. de Maintenon is as obsessed with her own chastity as an Elizabethan heroine..." ( )
  dangraves | Aug 14, 2011 |
This book presents an interesting overview of France during the reign of Louis XIV, covering the period of 1638-1715. It gives a brief bio of Louis but is not solely concerned with him or the aristocracy. Instead, the book contains chapters on such things as medicine of the time, life in a typical French town, being a country gentleman, and female education. It's all very interesting and the book is easy to read and understand. I did find the chapter on the Church a little confusing and I wish the author had provided more background information. The way that chapter is presented seems to assume that the reader has a basic understanding of the history of the Catholic Church. My only other complaint is that the author included a number of phrases or sentences in French without translation, which is obviously only meaningful for someone who reads French (not me). Considering the author was British (and, incidentally, the brother of C.S. Lewis) and not American, I don't know if assuming that your readers are bilingual is a valid assumption or not, but it frustrating to keep coming across things and not know what the author meant.

I should also point out that, while this book appears to be well researched, it is not a scholarly book. It does not directly reference other scholarly books, it does not contain footnotes, and it does not provide an in-depth analysis of the topics presented. That said, this book does provide a very good general overview of the time period and would be an excellent introductory book for that period of French history.
1 vote missporkchop | Dec 11, 2008 |
Interesting as being by C.S. Lewis's brother, but also for its own sake as a picture of life in the court of Louis XIV ( )
  antiquary | Sep 4, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, W. H.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorey, EdwardTypographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jullian, PhilippeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0881339210, Paperback)

Pleasures and palaces are, of course, an enormously entertaining part of this vivid account of France under Louis XIV. More important is the author's exploration of the political, economic, social and artistic forces that developed during the long reign of the Sun-King. It was an age of contradictions and compromises and high taxes and formal manners. And to the day he died Louis XIV ate with his fingers and acted like God. The opening account of Louis XIV's private life and loves sets the pace for this witty, provocative account of a century that, like our own, was a time of transition, dissatisfaction and progress. This was the age of Moliere, Racine, Corneille...the age of the salons and the graceful correspondents. And also an age that sent thousands of Huguenots to the galleys, the notorious death ships that served as seventeenth-century concentration camps.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:59 -0400)

Presents an account of France under the rule of Louis XIV, discussing aspects of the Sun-King's private life and loves, and exploring the politics, economics, art, and society of the age.

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