The Ordinary Conversations of Life: Example and education in Another Entretien avec M. de Sacy

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Hammond, Nicholas 

Starting with Pascal’s famous fragment on the ‘entretiens ordinaires de la vie’, this chapter considers questions of exemplarity and conversation at Port-Royal through the lens of a lesser known Entretien avec M. de Sacy, held between Louis-Isaac Le Maistre de Sacy and his secretary Nicolas Fontaine around 1650 on the subject of reading and education, five years before the famous Entretien between Blaise Pascal and Sacy that was noted down by Fontaine. While the Pascal Entretien appears to present Sacy as resistant to secular writers, the Fontaine Entretien shows him espousing the use in the Port-Royal petites écoles of secular Latin writers like Martial and Terence, whose plays he translated. I argue that knowledge of the earlier Sacy conversation can help us to reassess both the later Pascal conversation and aspects of the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées.

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Coups de maître: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Literature and Culture, in Honour of John D. Lyons
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