Appearance of the ‘’Preciosite”(Figure Available in Print Form)
(figure available in print form)
While the adjective “précieux” already existed in the 12th century, it is not much later that it was used with a socially significant meaning. ‘“Preciosite” appeared as a social and cultural movement at the end of “la Fronde”, when, after five years of civil war, socially stylish living could be thought of again. One of the original purposes therefore of this cultural movement was to eliminate the vulgarity and the nonchalance in the language and the behavior typical of that time at court and replace them with elegance of manners and of language.
We can trace the acknowledgment of this movement to two significant gents:
1 The publication of the “Précieuses,” a work by the Abbé de Pure.
2. A letter, dated April 3, 1654, sent by the Chevalier Renaud de Sevigne to the Duchess of Savoy, in which he informed her of the existence of a group of young ladies and women, called “Precieuses”, who had devised their own special language.
This special language would lead later on to the publication of more than one special code or dictionary. Among these we can name:
- The Abbé d’Aubignac (1604-1676), author of
Pratique du Théatre
and of the
Histoire du temps ou la relation du royaume de coqueterie
- Maulevrier, author of the
Carte du Royaume des Precieuses
(1658).- Mlle de Scudery, author of the
Carte du Tendre
The word Précieuse would be, from that time on, used in two different ways: negative and positive. The negative attitude would be shared by writers such as Boileau, Furetiere and Sauval; the positive by the friends of the Abbe d’Aubignac and the court of Gaston d’Orleans and his daughter. Other writers would join the controversy, although in a milder way (the poet Scarron, and St Evrement). The merit, however, of writing the most comprehensive collection concerning the movement including anecdotes and historical materials, must be accorded to Somaize, who wrote the
Grand Dictionnaire des Précieuses
Lanque des Ruelles
(1660-1661). This work has 395 entries, including particular events and works by Mlle de Scudery and Mlle de Monpensier.