27 Jan: The Ancients v The Moderns

Modern art was controversially celebrated on 27th January, 1687, when Charles Perrault read his poem ‘The Century of Louis The Great’ at the Académie Française – railing against the prevailing wisdom that believed literature should follow the strict classical templates laid down by the likes of Homer and Aristotle.

The subsequent debate between rival factions of ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ intellectuals raged for more than five years, and became known as ‘the quarrel’. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask how much of Perrault’s argument was actually to do with kissing Louis XIV’s arse; explain what Aesop had to do with the gardens at the Palace of Versailles; and wonder if the Ancients would have approved of Agatha Christie… 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Battle of the Books: History and Literature in the Augustan Age’ by Joseph M. Levine (Cornell University Press, 1991): https://bit.ly/32GeA9V

• ‘Charles Perrault, a multifaceted man’ (breteuil.fr): https://www.breteuil.fr/en/charles-perrault-a-multifaceted-man/

• ‘Charles Perrault INVENTED fairy tales Cinderella Mother Goose Little Red Riding Hood Sleeping Beauty’ (Timeline, 2015): 

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