Dialogues sur l’eloquence en general, et sur celle de la chaire en particulier. Avec une lettre écrite à l'Academie Françoise.
Fenelon, François De Salignac De La Mothe.

Paris: chez Jacques Estienne, 1718. First edition. Minor wear to binding. A near fine copy. Contemporary calf. Gilt spine, brown morocco label. Twelvemo. [8], 419, [3] pp. (Item ID: 13216)


This is one of the major works of the celebrated Archbishop of Cambrai (1651-1715), who also wrote Traité de l’education des filles (1687) and Télémaque (1699). Though written in the 1680s, it was not published until after his death. It was seen through the press by the Chevalier Ramsay, a close friend, to whom Fénelon had left all his papers. Written by a young clergyman attempting to improve the quality of preaching in his own day, the Dialogues are of great interest in the history of seventeenth-century critical thought. “…it is no exaggeration to say that his Dialogues on Eloquence are designed to be a complete theory of communication, with primary emphasis upon the preacher and the sermon, and with sustained auxiliary emphasis upon the work of the secular orator, the teacher, the poet, and the artist. His fundamental purpose is to base his theory of preaching upon the theory of art, and to keep everywhere in mind the relations between art and life. Thus his interests are more philosophical than specialized, more humane than technological, more liberal than doctrinaire” (Wilbur Samuel Howell, in his preface to the English translation, Princeton University Press, 1951). This work was translated into English in 1722, and went through several editions. In some copies of this original printing, pp. 159-168 have been repeated, with the result that the text ends on p. 409; in this copy, possibly a later issue, the pagination is essentially correct, and ends on p. 419 (the title-page and collation are identical).

Tchemerzine V, 227. See Howell, Eighteenth-Century British Logic and Rhetoric, p. 132ff. OCLC lists only thirteen copies, nine in North America.

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