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Fictional Orations From “Famous Women” (1665)1

Fictional Orations From “Famous Women” (1665)1

(p.56) Fictional Orations From “Famous Women” (1665)1
Selected Letters, Orations, and Rhetorical Dialogues
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores Madeleine de Scudéry's fictional orations from “Famous Women.” Here Scudéry pulls out all the stops and produces resounding oratorical style. In most cases, she imagines the historical woman she has chosen in a significant crisis where she must plead for her life, although usually not in public, since rarely in her culture would a woman speak in public. Scudéry's style in these orations is fully oratorical: long, often periodic sentences; frequent exclamation, interjection, and heroic epithets (adjectives or titles preceding names, a characteristic of epic style); metaphor, personification, irony, vivid description, catalogues, hyperbole, and all the other resources of figurative language; and clever, well-formulated arguments, drawing on all the commonplaces of rhetorical training (arguments from cause, effect, definition, comparison, opposites, names or etymology, associations or adjuncts, etc.).

Keywords:   Madeleine de Scudéry, fictional orations, Famous Women, oratorical style, figurative language, arguments, rhetorical training, historical women

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