Extent: Paperback

Pages: 398

Publisher: Cistercian Publications

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Understanding Rance

by David N. Bell



Both during his lifetime and afterwards Armand Jean le Bouthiellier, the abbé de Rancé, was a controversial figure. Alive, he was extravagantly admired by many, yet had, as one recent biographer observed, ‘an unhappy genius for incurring hostility unnecessarily’. Dead, he continued to evoke extreme reactions – he was either loved or loathed. One biographer nicknamed him ‘the thundering abbot’; other depicted him in hagiographical panegyrics. The present volume sets Rancé against the colorful and extravagant world of the seventeenth-century France and corrects both masterful and entertaining caricatures by exploring the world which circles of the ancient regime in which the young Rancé moved; and the austere monastic environment he created at La Trappe. ‘This is not so much a book about Rancé as around Rancé,’ the author writes. ‘I do not expect that it will persuade people who do not like Rancé to like him; it may, however, serve to explain why he said and di what he said and did in the way that he said and did.’

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