L’écriture familiale des Mémoires. Noblesse 1570-1750

Work published with the financial support of the CRCV.

Yohann Deguin, L’écriture familiale des Mémoires. Noblesse 1570-1750, Paris: Éditions Honoré Champion, collection “Lumière classique” no. 117, august 2020, 376 p., 6 family trees, 15,5 × 23,5 cm, €55 (ISBN: 978-2-7453-5374-0).


The practice of producing heartfelt private, intimate and personal writings often includes Memoirs. This book considers the writing of aristocratic Memoirs, from the second half of the 16th century to the first half of the 18th century, with regard to the writing of a family ideal. The family thus enables a way of reading these texts afresh, of seeing in them not only just the expression of a singular “I”, but in fact an “I- we”, an identity that is both singular and collective. The memoir writers of the Early Modern period, from Monluc to Saint-Simon, invest, in their memoirs, a space in which they can regenerate the values of aristocratic lineage in order to assert an image of themselves within the social and curial space. To do this, they build a family story, a legend of the household to be transmitted using family myths, genealogies and motifs pertaining to an “artificial memory” with lineage value. The authors construct a fiction of solidarity within a chosen family, which reconfigures the boundaries of the objective kinship to integrate into an imagined kinship, characters and collectives that only the writing of Memoirs can configure as members of an “ink family”.

A senior lecturer in Modern Humanities, Yohann Deguin is a Doctor of French Language and Literature at the Universities of Lorraine and Neuchâtel and former scholar at the Fondation Thiers – Centre de recherches humanistes de l’Institut de France.

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