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Cynic Shamelessness in Late Sixteenth-Century French Texts

Hugh Roberts
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 99, No. 3 (Jul., 2004), pp. 595-607
DOI: 10.2307/3738989
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3738989
Page Count: 13
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Cynic Shamelessness in Late Sixteenth-Century French Texts
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Abstract

This article examines the diverse responses elicited by ancient Cynicism's sexual shamelessness in a wide range of sixteenth-century French texts. The outrageous performance of the Cynics, including public sex and masturbation, was always designed to provoke questioning of civilized norms. Many texts express disgust at the antics of Diogenes and his followers. The facetious dialogues of Bouchet and Cholières treat the topic of shamelessness euphemistically. In contrast, Montaigne, in 'L'Apologie de Raimond Sebond', seriously considers the Cynic challenge to normative values, and suggests that Cynicism's commitment to nature shows that the normal definitions of vice and virtue should be inverted, in a daring example of paradiastole.

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