GRE Reading Comprehension

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Preciosite, "preciousness." or the manifestation of the baroque in literature, is often dismissed as a "feminine concoction," mocked by Moli6re and thought to be ridiculous by modern standards. Preferring appearance to substance and excess to moderation, baroque expression is given to wild exaggeration and purple description. However, when one considers its historical context, the movement can be seen as a subtle rebellion by an otherwise powerless sex against its restrictive society.

Crippled and stunned from a series of religious wars, seventeenth-century France under Louis XIII was characterized by political intrigue and violence. Escaping the crude court, a group of cultured and educated ladies met to discuss— in a fantastically embellished and witty manner— literature, art. and philosophy. They rejected the predominant emphasis on vulgarity and sought the elevation of /'education, or "manners" they considered essential to society. More salons followed, and these prgcieuses (literally, "precious ones") produced works of literature that are still widely read, such as novels, essays, and poems that elevated the ideal of courtly, or Platonic, love with an emphasis on sensuality and scrupulous rules of behavior.

Though men scoffed at their wives' pretensions. baroque literature as a reaction to political instability reawakened French proclivities for cultural expression. When Louis XIV ascended to the throne in 1661. French society was primed for the reestablishment of the arts. Baroque ideals served important roles regarding the criticism of the political situation and the influence of cultural trends. Louis XIV's peace provoked the cultural pendulum to swing to the other direction. ushering in a neo-classical movement that elevated simplicity and minimalism. It is surely no coincidence that it was the performance of "Les Precieuses Ridicules" ("The Conceited Ladies"). Moliere's play mocking preciosite, that first gained him wide acclaim and established him as the preeminent father of French theater.

Question List: 1 2 3 4

Consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.

The author suggests which of the following about how the preciosite was viewed during the seventeenth century?

  • A Literature can be a weapon of protest.
  • B Before the seventeenth century, the French expressed themselves through the arts.
  • C Literature was the only means of protest available to women in the seventeenth century.

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