French literary movement: Humanism.
Period: The Renaissance was a period in European history that occurred between the 15th and 16th centuries. It was a time of great discoveries and the beginning of religious wars.
Major authors: Rabelais, Montaigne, Erasme, More, and Machiavel.
Notable works: Gargantua (1534), Essays (1572-1592), In Praise of Folly (1511), Utopia (1516), and The Prince (1532).
The dominant literary style of the time was argumentative.
The motto is « to put man at the center of the world. »
Humanism was an intellectual and literary movement that emerged during the Renaissance, spurred by the invention of the printing press (1454) which allowed for the dissemination of ideas and the great discoveries of European navigators, which offered a new view of the world. Its philosophy is to « put man at the center of the world », that is, to consider the world through scientific observation and reason and not only through the religious vision of the Roman Catholic Church. However, humanism is not in opposition to religion, but rather seeks to propose an alternative view of the world alongside religion.
Knowledge is the main value of humanism, as demonstrated in the education of Gargantua (Rabelais), which combines all subjects. Previously controlled and kept by the clergy, knowledge was now open to laypeople. Scholars of the time re-learned ancient Greek and rediscovered the philosophers of antiquity (notably Plato) that the Church had rejected.
In addition, the return to ancient languages (including Hebrew) gave humanists the ability to read sacred texts (Old and New Testaments) in the original languages, and thus no longer to be dependent solely on the interpretation of Rome. This renewal had the consequence of Protestantism (1517 with Luther) which proposed a new way of perceiving and living the Christian faith, more personal and closer to the Bible.
Finally, the enormous increase in the known world with the discovery of the American continent and the indigenous peoples of America led to a new perspective on European civilization in relation to these new peoples. Humanists compared the two and especially defended tolerance towards these « new men. » For the first time, slavery, colonialism, racism, and intolerance were fought (Essays, Montaigne).
The humanist man is a universal man, not European.
Humanism ends in the second half of the 16th century with the religious wars that pit Catholics and Protestants against each other throughout Europe. Tolerance and the thirst for knowledge championed by scholars must give way to the closure and brutality of extremists from both sides.
Links Another articles about French literary movement: French literary movement: The Baroque. French literary movement : The enlightenment. French literary movement: Romanticism. French literary movement : The Surrealism movement.
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