When did the art of conversation appear in France?
It is associated with the emergence of literary salons in the 17th century. The first was aptly called a “conversation room”. He was born during the reign of Henri IV, just after the Wars of Religion, not without chance. The French were coming out of a very hard period, full of brutality, blood, and armed opposition. At Madame de Rambouillet, the gentleness of conversation reigned. As she often fell ill, she received guests at her home.
What do we do there?
The first salons take on a playful aspect, we play bouts-rhymes (by composing a poem from rhymes given in advance), we dress up. The literary salons, in which we will establish the French language, will come next.
Haven’t these shows codified a conversation where it’s about shining at the expense of others?
In the art of conversation, it is a question of not confusing laughter and mockery. Miss de Scudéry assigns her salon to practice “the spirit of joy”. And she thus gives a very strict instructions for using laughter in her work Clelie: it’s about having fun, rejoicing, learning. Our era is losing the jubilation of exchange, which is even greater if the participants, with opposing opinions, respect each other. Feeling grateful to someone who knows more than you about a subject is wonderful. It is a question of reconnecting with the spirit of tolerance, of politeness, of supporting contradiction, because it is fruitful.