10 Pages

Reading in the French Renaissance: Textual Communities, Boredom, Privacy

WithSteven Rendall

The Heptameron suggests that in the Renaissance, such textual communities continued to exist among the upper classes as well as among the common people. The Heptameron lays particular stress on the hygienic function of telling and listening to stories, and its connection with idleness and boredom. In the prologue to the Heptameron, the frame narrator explains that her storytellers are all noble ladies and gentlemen who have travelled to a spa in Southern France for their health. Elizabeth Long’s argument suggests that a promising approach would be to assume that the model of reading implicit in the Heptameron and other Renaissance texts continues to be relevant to understanding reading practices, although in cultural discourse on reading it has been suppressed by the image of the solitary reader.