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The Phantom of Chance


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Table of Contents

Preface: The Phantom of Chance; Starting in the middle of things; The end of fortune and the rise of chance; Acknowledgements; Series Editor's Foreword; Introduction; The tradition of chance; Aristotle and the third type of event; Fortuna and casus; Boethius and the wheel of fortune; Machiavelli and the dissolution of fortune; Montaigne and the sceptical challenge; 1. Fortune, Mistress of Events: Corneille and the Poetics of Tragedy; Chance as cornerstone of poetics; Clitandre, and the poetics of gratuity; Le Cid and the management of chance; Miracles in everyday life; 2. God in a World of Chance: Pascal's Pensees and Lettres provinciales; The Random human condition; From probability to frequency in the Provinciales; The coming of the Messiah was not an effect of chance; When the game is over; 3. From Chance Events to Improbable Actions: Lafayette and the Novel; The shipwreck of romance; Everyday encounters; Silent Chance; 4. The God of Suspense: Bossuet's providential history and Racine's Athalie; God's anamorphic history; Racine's tragedy of errors; 5. An Accidental World: La Bruyere's Caracteres; The Heart; Occasion; Love; Machines; Fashion; Index.

About the Author

John D. Lyons is Commonwealth Professor of French at the University of Virginia. He is the author or editor of 13 books including: Exemplum: The Rhetoric of Example in Early Modern France and Italy (Princeton University Press, 1989), Kingdom of Disorder. The Theory of Tragedy in Seventeenth-Century France (Purdue University Press, 1999), Before Imagination. Embodied Thought From Montaigne to Rousseau (Stanford University Press, 2005) and French Literature. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010).


"John Lyons' new take on the issue of chance, supported by illuminating interpretations of major 17th- century French texts, invites the reader to rethink the enigmatic links between randomness and necessity. Beautifully written, powerfully argued, The Phantom of Chance is a major contribution to the intellectual and literary history of modern times." -- Professor Thomas Pavel, University of Chicago "John D. Lyons brilliantly shows how, in both literary and religious writing of the Seventeenth Century, the quest for pattern has to come to terms with the apparently irreducible element of randomness in human life. Original in conception, broad in perspective, subtle in analysis, this is a remarkable book." -- Professor Michael Moriarty, Drapers Professor of French, University of Cambridge

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