28 June 2006

Online Exhibition Of Historical French Literature

Here's a great online exhibition that explores the historical relationship between French art and power: Creating French Culture: Treasures From The Bibliotheque Nationale de France. This info from the introduction places the exhibition in context:
Throughout French history the powerful have sought to harness culture to their own ends. They understood that the representation of power--what today we call "image"--is a form of power itself. They patronized artists, artisans, and intellectuals who produced works that proclaimed the legitimacy of their rule, reinforced their authority, and enhanced their prestige. At times, they stifled creative impulses incompatible with their ambition. The relationship between power--or politics--and culture in French history is thus an ambivalent one, defined as much by conflict and censorship as by cooperation and patronage.
The material features here goes back as far as the 8th Century. Some of the featured items include displays from illuminated manuscripts, lectionaries, psalter-hymnals, the works of Guillaume de Machaut, translations, royal chronicles, a lunar atlas, the works of Moliere, Zola's J'accuse!, and much more. The exhibition is divided into four categories: · monarchs and monasteries · path to royal absolutism · rise and fall of the absolute monarchy · from empire to democracy This exhibition is not limited to books, but they do make up a large part of it.

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