Scenes from the marriage of Louis XIV : nuptial fictions and the making of absolutist power /
Abby E. Zanger.
Stanford, Calif. : Standford University Press, 1997.
xiv, 244 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
0804729778 (alk. paper)
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Stanford, Calif. : Standford University Press, 1997.
0804729778 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 207-237) and index.
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This book radically revises our understanding of the construction of symbolic power in the age of absolutism by examining the fictions that emerge from visual, narrative, and ceremonial representations of (and reactions to) the 1660 marriage of Louis XIV to the Spanish infanta. Drawing on semiotics, the history of theater and spectacle, gender studies, and anthropology, the author reconsiders the nature of representation in absolutist political culture. The book is not intended as a history of the marriage. Rather, the author analyzes in detail exemplary moments or scenes from the royal wedding, in particular uncovering the dialectic at the heart of nuptial fictions. Like the kinship exchange out of which they emerge, fictions of marriage manipulate antagonistic forces in the service of promoting the political culture of absolutism. The nuptial fiction portrays a king who though central, is not yet absolute, and who depends on images and representational forms to become visible. His perceived power relies on appendages such as the queen and forms like print, fireworks, and drama. A calculus of addition, this dependence is invisible from within the models previously used to explore the representation of sovereignty, models based on rituals of substitution like the funeral rite. Though the fictions generated during Louis XIV's marriage are not the principal ones of his rule, they do affect the portrait of the king and provide insight into the making of an image scholars too frequently take for granted. Studying nuptial fictions invites us to reexamine cliches about the representation of absolutist power, generalizations that do not fully characterize the less monumental (but equally crucial) periods of Louis XIV's kingship.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-06:
The "body politic," sweat and all, takes on new meaning in this interpretive study of the symbolic function of Louis XIV's marriage to the Spanish Infanta, Maria Teresa, in 1660. Zanger (Harvard) traces preparations and negotiations for this event and its execution, aftermath, and long-term significance for geopolitical sovereignty through contemporary pamphlets, engravings, paintings, a preface by Mlle de Scudery, and a machine play, Corneille's Conquete de la toison d'or. The author's thesis is that print culture (her examples are included as illustrations) created "nuptial fictions" intended to establish and reinforce, through art and spectacle, Louis XIV's (and hence France's) dominance in and beyond this treaty-marriage. History suggests it must have worked! Zanger's evidence requires the reader's willingness to view Maria Teresa, converted by marriage to Marie-Ther`ese, in various symbolic representations including the Virgin Mary, Medusa and Medea, a ploy of power politics, a guarantor of progeny for dynastic succession, a ransom/hostage for Franco-Hispanic peace. Her very body, sweaty under hot ceremonial garb, is seen to authenticate thereby the reality of the kinship exchange. Zanger's analysis goes well beyond the stereotyped funeral rites of substitution so celebrated in Bossuet's orations. Despite a handful of printing or transcribing errors and an excessive use of parentheses, this is an intelligent, imaginative work. Recommended for graduate and research collections. D. A. Collins; formerly, Kalamazoo College
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Choice, June 1998
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This book revises our knowledge of the construction of symbolic power in the age of absolutism by examining the fictions that emerge from visual, narrative, & ceremonial representations of the marriage of Louis XIV to the Spanish infanta.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
A Note on Translations
Introduction: Nuptial Fictionsp. 1
Liminal Imagesp. 13
Fashioning the Body Politicp. 37
Views from the Borderp. 68
Nuptial Technologiesp. 98
Curiosity and the Art of Collecting a Queenp. 131
Afterword: The Queen Is Dead, Long Live the Kingp. 155
Notesp. 167
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 239
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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