This anonymous commonplace book, written in French, contains quotations on moral topics from widely read French authors of the later 18th century.
Collection processed and finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, September 1997
Scope and Content:
The unidentified author of this commonplace book extracted quotations on moral topics from some of the most popular, widely read French authors of the later 18th century, including Voltaire, Corneille, Rousseau, LaFontaine, Sédaine, and Béranger. While there is no indication of when the book was assembled, the handwriting appears consistent with a late 18th century origin, though the inclusion of a work by Béranger (1780-1857) and a work by Chemin-Dupontès published in 1798 suggests that it must have been at the very end of the period.
An unusually elegant piece, great care was lavished on the preparation of this commonplace book, suggesting that it was valued as an object, as much as for its literary worth. Bound in leather with gold tooling at the edges, 16mo, the book is written in a meticulous hand, with red borders around the text on each page, presenting a highly attractive, even impressive appearance.
The first section, the longest devoted to a single writer, is taken from Jean-Baptiste Chemin-Dupontès' Morale des sages de tous les pays et de tous les siècles, ou collection épurée des moralistes anciens et modernes (Paris, 1798). This is followed by selections of poetry in various genres, songs, and a section of riddle-like word games.
Biographical / Historical:
The practice of extracting pithy sayings, words to the wise, and inspirational poetry into a personal anthology was as common among the educated elite in 18th century France as it was in America. Such commonplace books provide evidence of the range of authors and the types of literature enjoyed by members of the elite, but in what they include -- and exclude -- these books may also be revealing of the personal beliefs and moral principles of the individual compiler. Presumably, if the compiler felt a passage worth recording, he or she felt that it contained some literary, philosophical, or moral merit. The act of recording passages from scripture and from orthodox religious writers, for example, fairly clearly distinguishes that compiler from one who chooses to cite secular writers or at times anticlerical philosophers.
1997. M-3382.3 .
Rules or Conventions:
Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Additional Descriptive Data:
Partial Subject Index
Chemin-Dupontès, J.-B. (Jean-Baptiste), 1760 or 61-1852?
Conduct of life--France--Quotations, maxims, etc.
Social values--France--Quotations, maxims, etc.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.