Staff in the Department of French
Publication details for Dr Thomas Wynn2011 Thomas Wynn 'Voltaire, Marie-Antoinette and the politics of galanterie', French Studies 65, pp. 17-29
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0016-1128, 1468-2931
- DOI: 10.1093/fs/knq181
- View online: Online version
Author(s) from Durham
In its glorification of the established order, galanterie is an aesthetic and practice that lends itself to expressions of fealty. Following Alain Viala’s recent research on the subject, this article reconsiders Voltaire’s final commission for the French court in the light of the politics of galanterie. L’Hôte et l’hôtesse may appear to be a minor frivolity, but an analysis of its political context reveals its importance as a means by Voltaire attempted to secure royal protection in the wake of Turgot’s fall from power in May 1776. The play was intended to contribute to the comte de Provence’s fête galante for Marie-Antoinette at the château de Brunoy in October of that year. A close reading of Voltaire’s proposed texts, the correspondence and of contemporary accounts of the fête allows the received account of the play’s production to be challenged. This article reveals Voltaire’s attempts to create a suitably galant celebration for the queen, in whom he saw a defence against his enemies, and offers a new account for his final failure at the politics of galanterie.