Seeing Through the Mother Goose Tales: Visual Turns in the Writings of Charles Perrault

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During the first half of the reign of Louis XIV, Charles Perrault enjoyed the status of a prominent public intellectual. A key player in the development of the arts, he has commonly been situated in French literary and cultural history as the spokesman for the Moderns in the Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns, the seventeenth century's protracted aesthetic controversy. During the 1690s, after falling from political favour, Perrault took up the writing of fiction and achieved lasting fame as the author of the Mother Goose Tales. Seeing Through the Mother Goose Tales proposes a framework for relating these two distinct facets of his career. The author shows how the intellectual and conceptual compromises that the fairy tales rearticulate derive their force and coherence from the priority that Perrault's characters, faithful to the dominant values of the century, accord to visual representation.