Thursday, September 09, 2010

Helmut Hatzfeld, The Rococo; Eroticism, Wit, and Elegance in European Literature

Helmut Hatzfeld, The Rococo; Eroticism, Wit, and Elegance in European Literature, Pegasus, New York, 1972.

The main problem here is that all the literary works of the eighteenth century display the same spirit or cultural style, which combines eroticism, wit, and elegance of presentation in a unique constellation. One needs only to exclude all the treatises of a more or less scientific, philosophical, or political character that are considered to belong to literature because of their stylistic perfection. (vii)

…extension of the concept of the cultural Rococo to English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese literature is fraught with difficulties. (vii0

In the distant future, scholars may come to terms about the inseparability of the Rococo and the Enlightenment, which is today a petitio principii rather than a proved fact. … The present volume, accordingly, excludes from the Rococo the more serious and technical Enlightenment literature as well as the sentimental “pre-Romantic” writings that present a new and serious concept of love and nature. This study concentrates rather on the lightness and elegance of the eighteenth century wherever found in European literature. (vii-viii)

I want to stress again that, if I follow art historians in using the term Rococo, I am not hunting for formal analogies but only for common cultural propensities. (viii)

As a matter of fact, literary historians were not particularly interested in periodization, since they did not grasp its importance for understanding history. What counted for them were the important writers and the masterpieces they had created. (ix)

Thanks to Heinrich Wolfflin’s well-known Principles of Art… Like a Renaissance paintings, a Renaissance novel, e.g., Boccaccio’s Decamerone, has a sharply contoured design, a well-constructed frame, a multiplicity of units only loosely integrated, and a clearly discernible plan, thanks to a careful surface organization. A Baroque novel, on the other hand, e.g., Cervantes’ Don Quijote, has a blurred texture where persons and action are impinging on one another, and it is frameless insofar as it is open-ended; but the poorly discernible units are well unified among themselves, the action and characters are stratified to give the narration depth and volume. (xii)

Although the semantic root of the word and its early development, namely, rocaille meaning “shell and stone decorations,” are well established, the curious form rococo has still to be explained. (3)

While used by Stendhal in his Promenades de Rome (1829), it was still a synonym of baroque; but in Le Rhin (1842) Victor Hugo speaks of the Rococo architecture of Nancy. / While term rococo appears for the first time in the Dictionnaire de l’Academie of 1842, the term rocaille has been used since the seventeenth century, (4)

The Dictionnaire de l’Academie (1842) approximates the modern usage of the term Rococo and defines it as a type of ornament, style, and design of a school flourishing under Louis XV and the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI. It distinguishes, as a nuance of the Rococo, the style Pompadour and labels the older architecture of Giles Marie Oppenord (1672-1742) Rococo as well. Jacob Burckhardt, who was mainly interested in the Renaissance, calls what he considers its decadent phase promiscue Baroque or Rococo (1853). But his successors in the history of art began to discern sharply the heavy Baroque from the lofty Rococo, e.g., C. Gurlitt in his history of the two styles (1889) (5)

In the twentieth century, art historians use Rococo to designate the art of the eighteenth century, mainly in France. (5)

Friedrich Brie’s Englische Rokoko-Epik, 1710-1730 (Munich, 1927). Brie shows the limitations of this concept for England, since there a society open to dallying superficially and the brilliant espirit of the French aristocracy were lacking. But articles in The Tattler and The Spectator on ladies’ habits, dresses, and fancies, according to Brie, prepare the spirit of luxury and high life that came into the open in Pope’s Rape of the Lock and Gay’s Fan.(6-7)

The ideas found in the petits genres, displaying wit, elegance, and eroticism, seem to have very little to do with the Enlightenment. (7)

“fun of out-of-place detail.” She gives, as an example, the girl who calmly arranges her hair while, in her presence and because of her, two men fight in a desperate hand-to-hand combat. Something like an out-of-place detail, albeit more integrated, exists also in Fragonard’s painting Washerwomen. The women are set in a typically rustic scene, but they are hanging up their laundry like figurants in an eighteenth-century ballet. Similarly, barefoot peasant women depicted pushing a barrow in a Boucher painting are supposed to have waded through dust and dirt with their spotless “white feet of duchesses that just escaped from their fur-brimmed slippers.” This particular Rococo mode of surprise, which Flowers calls the “fun of the out-of-place detail,” appears in the language itself in the form of witty comparisons, (9)

In 1959, Arno Schonberger and Haldor Sohner … expressed what I surmised twenty years earlier (see note 7), namely, that the Rococo, as the elegant and cynical expression of the ideas of the Enlightenment, is the literary style of the eighteenth century. This concept, however, was violently opposed by Walter Binni. (9)

A great step forward in establishing the Enlightenment as the internal form of the Rococo was made in 1963 by Roger Laufer [10] … Laufer adds, on his own, that the Rococo is light and epigrammatic, curt, full of silences, without consequence and order and that the plaisanteries typically replace the proofs. For him, the Rococo presents a linearity of narration full of abundant details, without a real conclusion, always begging the question, always elegant of faisande, or as the texts say, ragoutant, a style stressing the decousu (desultory) and the dialogue. Everything is enlivened by a seriousness coupled with frivolity and producing a harmonieux desequilibre and a sophisticated ambiguity. The marionettes in their anecdotic actions reveal the sad truth of the insincerity of human relations, (11)

If, measured by the norm of classicism, the Baroque is the sublime, then certainly the Rococo represents the graceful. (13-14)

“In Rococo literature we find woman reigning supreme, with nature…often reduced to the stature of pastoral artifice. (17)

“The delicate, dazzling …beauty which put the last and most exquisite touch on the exterior adornment of life, accentuated its sparkling vivaciousness, interpreted its insouciance, although it laid bare something of its shallowness, its incapacity, or rather its unwillingness to pierce through the hard brilliant surface to the very heart of things.” (17)

Nina Epton discerns in Rococo civilization “education to grace, amiability, rare courtesy, exquisite taste, elegance of deportment, sense of moderation in speech,” while the art historian Hermann Bauer singles out… rejection of mourning, death, and seriousness. (18)

On his part, Michael Levey considers the historical moment in calling the Rococo “the Baroque tamed and cut down for a more civilized age, one with a sense of humor, too.” (18)

Older slogans by which writers and critics of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries have sought to circumscribe the civilization, art, and literature of the century of enlightenment in their mutual inseparability. Diderot speak about facilite (lightness), mignardise (daintiness), and galanterie; Voltaire stresses luxe (luxury), mollesse (effemination), … Gresset praises the dallying taste avoiding extended works, Dorat…the voluptuous gracefulness, The Goncourt brothers… noise of little nothings. Gaston Deschamps …the trace of a smile on the lips… tears at the corners of the eyes. … agreeable frivolity, slight sarcasm, insulting clownery, boyish folly, seduction of the spirit, where emotion is disguised by witticism, where irony leaves some room to the soul, where even force and depth may be expressed by easiness, gracefulness, and lightness. (18-19)

Philippe Minguet… domination of a psychoanalytically defined conchyliomanie (mania for shells). According to him, the retrecissement (narrowing down of the great) produces an order of the minuscule and the delicate in which the objects hold their own by their exquise fragilite, but they do it with an insolente aisance (insolence in easygoing) in the fragile age de la porcelaine to which they belong. (19)

The first Rococo generation is that of late Louis XIV and the Regence (1715-1723). Its main representative in the pictorial arts is Antoine Watteau… Watteau uses the theater and its actors as a poetic metaphor of life, … Painted in the typical pastel colors of the Rococo, it seems to be steeped in powder and rouge. … (20)

In his oeuvre the motif of a half-yielding, half-resisting female partner is depicted four times, suggesting the liens from Windsor Forest by Watteau’s English contemporary, Alexander Pope: “As some coy nymph her lover’s warm address/Nor quite indulgence nor can quite repress.” (21)

Watteau avoided coarse eroticism. He is said to have destroyed five of his more erotic pictures from qualms of conscience. (21)

Watteau’s pupils Nicolas Lancret (1690-1742) and Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Pater (1695-1736) lacked their master’s finesse. In his park scenes Lancret made no attempt to disguise his models but exposed them as central figures, … shortened skirt, …eroticism latent in the Rococo fetishism of the female foot by depicting a young gentleman fastening a skate (L’Attache du patin) to the foot of a young lady. He further emphasized this eroticism in his bathing beauties… (23)

The most prominent painter of the generation of Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour was Francois Boucher (1703-1770). His eroticism appeals licentious and even obscene because he preferred to present female nudes in naturalistic settings. From the modern viewpoint, however, he seems less objectionable, since most of his nudes are almost children. (23)

Boucher came into his own, however, in that curious in-between realm of mythology and naturalism, the pastoral. In his bucolic scenes real shepherd boys often encounter the academic and aristocratic, well-dressed but barefoot pseudo-shepherdesses in their meadows. The boys are allowed to love them after having surprised them in their slumber; or they humbly receive gifts from them, be it a grape (as in a painting in Stockholm; Pense-t-il aux raisins?) or an embrace. (24)

The generation younger than Boucher and his contemporaries veiled less and showed more, as a grain of vulgarity began to debase the Rococo spirit. … The great painter en vue in this changed atmosphere was Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806). His lascivious painting The Lucky Hazards of the Swing introduced the ogler (typical also in literature), placed in such a way as to be able to spy on the more intimate parts of the body of the swinging lady. … In all these pictures Fragonard continued Boucher’s technique of contrasting bolder, e.g., in the portrait of Mlle Colombe holding the nipple of her right breast between two fingers; (25)

Fragonard is the painter par excellence of alcoves and boudoirs, which he fills with nonchalance and vaporousness without losing his exquisite feeling for light. (26)

He belongs to the third Rococo generation of the Rousseau-infected pseudo-moralists with the bad bourgeois taste of Diderot, in short: the generation of Louis XVI. / The leading painter of this generation was Jea-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805). … Greuze pretended to paint virtue and innocence, choosing as his model his young wife, Anne Gabrielle, with her childlike eyes, her rounded neck, and her kissable mouth. Besides possessing such appealing physical qualities, his heroines also wear suggestive dresses, which are generally somewhat disarranged and leave one of the shoulders bare. They further make the attractive gesture of leaning their cheeks on one of their hands and to arrange their gauze scarves seductively. With such fundamental gestures and draperies, the girl, whose innocence was just lost or is on the brink of being lost, appears symbolically with a broker pitcher, … (26)

The time spans represented by Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard in painting correspond to those represented by Marivaux, Voltaire, and Beaumarchais in literature, but a systematic parallelism cannot be established. Our literary divisions, therefore, have to be different, but they will receive at least some light from the artistic generations just traced. (27)

The epoch preceding the Rococo in literature was the Baroque period, which was as much dominated by Spain as the Rococo period is dominated by France. … (30)

Arnold Hauser. According to him, the Baroque is a collecteive culture of greatness and power, where the Rococo is an individual culture of great beauty and gracefulness. The Baroque wanted to impress and to overwhelm, while the Rococo wanted to charm and to please. (30)

Baroque sceneries are heroic, Rococo sceneries idyllic; the Baroque portrait is public and extravagant, the Rococo portrait private and discreet. (30-31)

The matter-of-fact Rococo did away with all decorative epithets with which the Baroque was bristling, i.e., sublime adjective such as mighty, noble, majestic, brilliant, excellent, illustrious, superb, immense, supreme, extreme, magnanimous, magnificent, generous, royal, glorious, and eternal. (31)

Personal tragedies of a spiritual kind, as they are lived through by the Baroque author Pascal, who thinks of man as a “reed that thinks” and is horrified by “the silence of the infinite spaces,” are characterized as absurd by Voltaire’s sneer. While the same Voltaire finds the representatives of a verbose and imagistic style worthy of being burned at the stake, (32)

…reduction of the settings and costumes in the Baroque theater of the word, compared with the heavy emphasis on scenery and costumes, movements, and stage directions in the Rococo play of action. (33)

The Baroque indulges in the clair-obscure [French for chiaroscuro] that veils visible things on the one hand and reveals hidden things on the other, while the Rococo, like the Renaissance, prefers brutal frankness. The Baroque clair-obscure goes very well with its bienseance and splendor. Racine’s Andromaque evokes the night of Troy illuminated by the flames of the burning city, where Pyrrhus was raging among the Trojans; Britannicus describes the abduction of Junie by Nero in the twilight of the torches reflected by the military armor; and Berenice recalls the spledor of Titus’ noctural parade: (33)

The Baroque age believes in the heroic epic, but the Rococo knows only the mock-heroic; the Baroque appreciates nothing more than the period style, whereas the Rococo debunks it and indulges in the curt style. Some say the full organ of Boussuet was replaced in the curt style. Some say the full organ of Bossuet was replaced by the thin flute of Voltaire. The great objects of literature, the human passions, are treated in the Baroque profoundly, decently, and metaphysically; in the Rococo they are treated superficially, cynically, and sociologically. (34)

Divine intervention, mysteries, and miracles are accepted by the Baroque age of faith despite all the claims of verisimilitude; they are rejected by the skeptic and agnostic age of the Rococo and replaced by the naturalistic or fanciful elements of the fairy tale. (34)

If the Rococo can be defined as a unity of eroticism, wit, and gracefulness, the novels in which all these elements are present may well be limited in number. There are many erotic novels lacking wits as well as gracefulness. … There are also sentimental novels of the period that take sensuality so seriously that they are devoid of graceful wit and thus cannot truly be called Rococo. (36)

…the essential attitude of the Rococo novel, first of all in Marivaux. This novelist uses the first-person-narrative type in letter or memoir form to produce an ambiguity in the reports, which mirror the fictitious writer not only as a mature personality who writes but also as an inexperienced, youthful creature who lived through the experiences he now reports. Thus a constant, imperceptible irony is maintained, … the priceless combination of a detachment and complicity in Marivaux… (37)

As soon as the bourgeois trend in French letters took over, sentimentality, obscenity, and vulgarity destroyed this taste, as is even the case with Diderot’s unrestrained Les Bijoux indiscretes (1748). (37)

Thus the concept of Rococo novel can only be established by a process of elimination. Where there is vulgar eroticism, lack of humor, lack of esprit, criticism, and elegance, where there is sentimental or merely cynical involvement, there is no typical Rococo novel. (38)

Marivaux is Rococo novelist par excellece, since he knows how to chat, commenting on the episodes without drawing moral conclusions, neither praising nor blaming his protagonists. He chats with charm, stylistic elegance, psychological profundity, and ambiguity. He has the capability at the same time to touch, to inform, and to bewitch. He created the sympathetic, restrained coquette in Marianne, who is graceful, pretty, subtle, proud, ingenious, refined, shrewd, and fascinating both as the abandoned girl and subsequently as the great lady, who is never unfaithful but it always surrounded by a retinue of admirers. Now, why do they circumstances make Marianne a typical Rococo heroine? Because she is always aware of her attractiveness, and because her sensibility is tempered by the irony of her admitted vanity, which makes her altogether different from Richardson’s Pamela or Rousseau’s Julie, to whom the vanity of pleasing would be odious. One knows that the French public was maliciously amused by the virtuous girls in the English style. /
The literary value of La Vie de Marianne thus consists in the new psychology of the Rococo, which discerns in the spontaneous, naïve, and unconscious actions of a young girl the subconscious, sex-directed vanity that becomes easily discernible to self-criticism in retrospect at a more mature age. This fictitious, detached introspection also helps Marianne to judge the appearance of all the other persons, all the attitudes and actions occurring in her environment. There are, of course, besides many vanities, many real moral values opposed to them as well, e.g., the sterling character of Mme de Miran. The interplay of vanity and dignity within the Rococo civilization makes this novel historically true. (39)

Marianne is always a decent girl, but coquettishness and virtual seduction are innate in her. This is revealed immediately after the mass, when she sprains her ankle trying to avoid being overrun by Valville’s cararige. Valville takes her to his home and calls a doctor to examine her ankle. She is ashamed and pleased at the same time to be obliged to take off her stocking in the presence of Valville. (41)

Thus Marivaux pinpoints through Marianne the weakness of the drawing room as well as of the convent parlor of his times, and all this in the most natural and lackadaisical way, by fusion of direct and indirect speech and, particularly, by an early use of style indirect libre. (46)

Les Liaisons dangereuses is the perfect blend of an elegant Rococo form with the rationalism of the Enlightenment, as might be expected from a well-educated officer with a lifelong dedication to mathematics and the gift of a great ecrivain. C. J. Greshoff calls the novel “the farthest and coldest promontory of rationalism in the world of fiction.” … the slight exaggeration of Roger Vailland: “This painter of libertinism is a chaste author; the Catholic novelists of today are monsters of lubricity beside this geometer.” One never should forget that Choderlos de Lacos also wrote a treatise on the education of women as a moral warning prefaced by a quote from Seneca: “Evil is without remedy if the vices have becomes customs.” (69)

No culture has produced a wittier, more elegant, and teasing dialogue full of elusive and camouflaging language and gestures, refined feelings, and subtle criticism couched in sharp repartees than has the French Rococo. The whole gamut of love—sincere, shy, tender, fresh or precieux, daring or vicious, confessed, denied, thwarted, requited, feigned, and enjoyed—is present, accordingly, in the bewitching plays of Marivaux, in the mimetic and pantomimic masquerade of unorthodox ideas in the ironic, sparkling entretiens of Diderot, and in the sophisticated game of erotic undermining of morals and political subversion of the establishment in the fireworks of the dynamic theater of Beaumarchais. The names of these three stand, at the same time, roughly for three generations and the eras of the Regence (1715-1723), of Louis XV (1723-1774), and of Louis XVI (1774-1792). (82)

The third Rococo generation under Louis XVI (1774-1792) may be called still more daring than the second, but it was less vulgar, thanks to a last refinement before the breakdown. Indomitable wit and clever innuendo now lift the rather strong eroticism of the preceding generations of the heights of esprit; the two main components of the Rococo, wit and eroticism, blend into a perfect and indissoluble unit. A good example of this blend into a perfect and indissoluble unit. A good example of this blend in art is Fragonard’s The Lucky Hazards of the Swing. The Fragonard of literature is Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1723-1799), whose Barbier de Seville (1774), also called La Precaution inutile (The Worthless Precaution), and its more important sequel Le Mariage de Figaro (1784), also called La Folle Journee (The Maddening Day) represent the high points of the Rococo drama. Because of the enormous success of the Mariage, a libretto for an opera by Mozart (1756-1791) was immediately abstracted from it; and this opera, likewise a high point of a musical Rococo, was staged in Vienna the very same year, 1784. / Beaumarchais is Figaro himself. (105)

Authors like Crebillon fils or Dulcos certainly do not represent the Rococo at its purest, since their styles are not elegant enough. Therefore they exhale a heavier, disturbing, and penetrating perfume like a smell emanating from the tepid atmosphere of a lady’s dressing rooms, stuffy, discreet, and voluptuous. Only when it is sifted through superior criticism into an obliging form does eroticism become that free, airy, liberating Rococo so admired in Marivaux and Beaumarchais but also found, in a still higher degree, in Montesquieu, Voltaire, Buffon, and others. These authors are sprightly without vulgarity and light without indecency. The literary genres they preferred are short stories, letters, memoirs, dreams, dialogues, maxims, epigrams, humorous epitaphs, travelogues, and fancy visions. (120)

The Rococo philosopher par excellence is Luc de Clapier, Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747). In his Reflexions et maxims (1746), he defends the unhampered rights of the heart: he is opposed to moral austerity and fights the Christians faith as restraining the passions. He uses all forms of elegant presentation, triads, comparisons, metaphors, and personifications that help to make his own position the more attractive and the opinion opposed more despicable. (121)

The Rococo taste is not hidden but manifest, loud, and ostentatious in the works of Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778). In 1736 he promulgated his belief in the new ideals in his poem “Le Mondain” (“The Worldling”): … (I like well luxury and even idleness,/ All the pleasures, the arts of any kind,/ Cleanliness, taste, adornment;/ Every gentleman has such feelings.) / Then he praises all Rococo achievements in detail: abundance of exotic food; the superfluous as a necessity; exquisite French wines never tasted by Eve in paradise; silk and gold; paintings ; tapestries; gardens of myrtle; statues and fountains; a comfortable, horse-drawn carriage, half gilded and half glass; bathrooms; perfumes; a well-polished skins; rendezvous with different beauties; opera; dance; music; dinners with brilliant service and first-class dishes prepared by a first-class chef served by graceful ladies while the stoppers of foaming champagne bottles hit the ceiling and gay laughter fills the room. He closes by rejecting paradise by saying, “Le Paradis terrestre est ou je suis” (Earthly paradise is where I am). (128)

Voltaire’s irony is always directed at poor taste, such as he finds in the late Baroque, a style he condemns in his Temple du gout. This temple “does not have the pompous shortcomings of the Versailles chapel, that gorgeous fal-lal that blinds the eyes of people and at which the connoisseur pokes fun.” To this style he opposes simplicity and elegance. It seems that simplicity and elegance would cover the literary Rococo style if accompanied by some wit. (128)

To discover English Rococo, one must also turn to the somewhat frivolous traveler-novelist Tobias SMollett (1721-1771), particularly his Humphry Clinker, and, even more so, to Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) and his Sentimental Journey. Good Rococo candidates are furthermore the Scottish poets Allan Ramsey (1686-1758), with his pastoral play The Gentle Shepherd, and Robert Burns (1759-1796), with many of his popular but impish-erotic poems. In an enterprise larger than the present one, a searcher for English Rococo could not omit Lord Chesterfield, the admirer of Mme de Tencin, or Horace Walpole, who was impressed by Mme du Deffand, or even certain aspects of the work of Oliver Goldsmith. (149)

But let us restrict ourselves to the most clear-cut cases. Alexander Pope (1688-1774) has the greatest Rococo affinity with Voltaire, who called him “the most elegant, the most correct poet. He can be translated because he is extremely clear.” (149)

Pope, as a member of the small Roman Catholic high society in England, never relinquished a fundamental moral viewpoint and presented his Rococo scenes with cautious reminders of playing with fire: (150)

The same teasing Rococo atmosphere occurs in Robert Burns’s poetry of lassies met in the landscape, as in the famous lines from “Comin’ thro’ the Rye” : … Here Burns is the perfect peasant cavalier flirting with the lasses, as in the song “Green Grow the Rashes,” (155)

One should suppose that the famous English novels with female protagonists, such as Richardson’s Pamela (1742) and Clarissa (1751) or Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1751), would yield certain Rococo elements. But they do not, since each of these heroines is like Matthew Prior’s banal Jinny the Just: / With a just brim of virtue her soul was endued; / Nor affectedly pious nor secretly lewd, / She cut even between the coquette and the prude. / There is one novel, however, that with its French leanings, is truly Rococo, namely, A Sentimental Journey (1768) by Laurence Sterne (1713-1768). The journey through France—it was first planned to include Italy as well—is sentimental since, as in modern travelogues by Paul Morand or Valery Larbaud, it is made interesting only by encounters with women that induce that well-inclined traveler into short, intimate moments of flirtation. The traveler is well aware of the superficiality of these encounters but savors them to the utmost. (157)

The whole Rococo literature was slowly undermined after the publication of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Nouvelle Heloise (1761). This work, which has rightly been considered the source and origin of Romanticism, is opposed to anything for which the Rococo culture stood. … his radically different concept of love and his flight from the curt Rococo style into a new period style… Rousseau was, first of all, a man without humor. He therefore killed the wit and lightness of the Rococo and made himself the antagonist of Voltaire. (247)

Crucial passages of the novel reveal the contrast between Rousseau’s Romanticism and the Rococo. St. Preux’s formal condemnation of his time is clear and outspoken: “All the secret events of the chronique scandaleuse are unveiled, good and evil are made equally pleasant and are equally ridiculed. … According to Rousseau, his century has debased love. Love is a mystery, not a sexual urge to be consented to and enjoyed. (248)

With his device “Back to Nature” Rousseau stands behind all the views uttered by his heroes and heroines. Therefore the Rococo spirit is fought by stressing popular customs against artificial galanterie, personal honor against a socially dictated honor, the laws of nature against nasty principles, genuine love against infatuation, truth against social hypocrisy, virtue against the sophisms of philosophy, simple speech against amorous jargon… (250)

Here it may suffice to say that the new rhythmic style is a sharp antithesis to the curt Rococo style. Thus multisyllabic words, personifications, and a stream of epithets invade the sentence, as was the case in the Baroque style: … (I showed her from afar the mouths of the Rhone whose impetuous course seems to be afraid to sully with its muddy waters the azure crystal of the lake.) / The change between anteposited and postposited sounding adjectives produces a variegated rhetorical kaleidoscope whose rhythm enhances the dignity of the sentences: … The voracious hawk, the doleful raven, and the terrible eagle of the Alps were the only creatures to make the caverns echo their cries. (252)


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