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Rhetorical Dialogues

Rhetorical Dialogues

Chapter:
(p.96) Rhetorical Dialogues
Source:
Selected Letters, Orations, and Rhetorical Dialogues
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226144122.003.0005

This chapter explores Madeleine de Scudéry's rhetorical dialogues and conversations on diverse subjects. Here Scudéry reworks the Renaissance humanist tradition of the dialogue in light of the institution of the salon. She had begun this process in her novels, and many of the conversations are lifted, but with significant revisions, from the novels. The models Scudéry seems to have in mind for her dialogues include not only Baldassare Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier, which set the standard for two centuries of salon conversation but, more broadly, rhetorical dialogues in general, including those of the classical rhetorical theorists: Plato, Cicero, and Augustine. While her conversations encompass many topics, the chapter focuses on those on conversation, wit, and letter writing, where Scudéry develops a theory of rhetoric appropriate to women and the institution of the salon: “On Conversation,” “On Speaking Too Much or Too Little,” “On Wit,” and “On the Manner of Writing Letters.”

Keywords:   Madeleine de Scudéry, rhetorical dialogues, conversations, salon, Baldassare Castiglione, Courtier, wit, letter writing, women

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