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Amanda Vickery: Letter-Writing, 4 November 2010

The Pen and the People: English Letter-Writers 1660-1800 
by Susan Whyman.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 19 953244 5
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Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters 
by Dena Goodman.
Cornell, 408 pp., £24.50, June 2009, 978 0 8014 7545 0
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... of research. The different spin the authors put on developments is captured in their titles. Dena Goodman’s elegant study, Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters, charts the way literate and privileged (though not necessarily noble) French women colonised letter-writing, which was simultaneously ‘inscribed into the meaning and practice of ...

Twilight Approaches

David A. Bell: Salon Life in France, 11 May 2006

The Age of Conversation 
by Benedetta Craveri, translated by Teresa Waugh.
NYRB, 488 pp., £17.99, October 2005, 1 59017 141 1
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... that they offered to women, and even suggested that they spawned a sort of proto-feminism. Dena Goodman has contended that the gentle guidance given by salonnières to philosophical discussion itself constituted a critical contribution to Enlightenment thought. Lilti powerfully criticises all this work (including Craveri’s) for focusing ...

When the barracks were bursting with poets

David A. Bell: Napoleon, 6 September 2001

Napoleon the Novelist 
by Andy Martin.
Polity, 191 pp., £45, December 2000, 0 7456 2536 3
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... was not the only French officer of his day to devote himself to literature. As the historian Dena Goodman has observed, the barracks were bursting with would-be poets and philosophes. Another famous underemployed artillery officer of the period, Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos, for example, started publishing poetry while posted in Grenoble in ...

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