"Duc de Saint Simon and Courtly Bodies," 3 Quarks Daily, June 9, 2014.
Saint-Simon claims his formal purpose is to give a robust critical account of the Sun King’s court—indeed he is unsparing in his judgment of the king’s vanity—yet his attention in the memoirs is fixed on the individual characters at court. His memoirs are a collection of portraits, one after another, with thin transitions and scant overarching narrative. Each portrait is unequivocally embodied. Saint Simon enacts for us the dance of court life: the sitting, the standing, the bowing, the washing, the dressing, the kissing, the confiding, the eating, the removing of hats, the donning of hats, the touching of hats, the screaming, the moaning, the kneeling, the whispering, the wringing of hands. Open to a random page in the memoirs: you will find living, breathing, thriving, ailing, moving bodies.
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