The early eighteenth century was a vibrant period for European journalism. Already the author of several journals including the first spectator in French (Le Misanthrope), Justus van Effen attempted to capture the Regency spirit in France with La Bagatelle, also modelled on the English Spectator. Characterised by their overtly ironic tone, the Bagatelliste’s comments range from witty observations on contemporary society or literary controversies to bolder and more subversive reflections on the principles of inheritance or religious orthodoxy. Produced as a twice-weekly quarter sheet, La Bagatelle included short works of poetry and prose; brevity and stealth were its tools and its defences.
In this first critical edition of La Bagatelle, James L. Schorr uncovers the sources of each periodical essay, and situates Van Effen’s ironic commentaries in their social and cultural context. Tracing the influence of classical as well as contemporary English writers, Schorr also explores an evolution in the character of the Bagatelliste himself, from the seventeenth-century ‘man of science’ to the philosophe of the Enlightenment. Containing substantive textual commentary and variants from the 1718-19 and 1722-24 issues, Schorr’s critical edition represents a major addition to our knowledge of early eighteenth-century French journalism and the intellectual climate in which it flourished.
Published with kind support from the Dr. C. Louise Thijssen-Schoute Foundation.
‘This valuable edition will help to increase knowledge of cross-cultural exchanges and journalism’.
Modern Language Review
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