Reviewed in 1996
The third volume of Hubert Carrier's monumental thesis on the mazarinades has now appeared chez Klincksieck (the previous two, chez Droz), thereby completing the publication of decades of research and reflection on literature and the Fronde. The first two volumes are deeply historical, not only in approach but in theme; the third is also deeply historical, but more literary in theme. Attention to genre yields very interesting results. The authors of the mazarinades were very sensitive to issues of genre, particularly the burlesque, romanesque, the song, poetic genres, and so forth, and there is an internal history of the mazarinades in which competition and trendiness have their part. The French language usually used, and the philosophical underpinnings employed, were generally old-fashioned, as were the allusions to learned histories. The wealth of precise fact about writers and writing illuminates the Fronde immensely. Carrier's thesis that the Fronde enriched and developed French literature, making it more expressive and the language more fluid, is a conclusion that will certainly not go unchallenged by further generations of scholars. Reading Carrier prompts one to recall just how broad and general literature can be when freed of questions of canon. There need not be a tension between "theory" and history either, to further understanding and satisfy curiosity. I should really review in an essay all three volumes of Carrier, in the interest of being helpful to scholars in both history and literature.