Pascal's Pensées is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest masterpieces of seventeenth-century France, an unfinished work which has both inspired and perplexed readers in succeeding centuries. Playing with Truth is the first comprehensive book on Pascal to be devoted to his use of key terms depicting the central subject of the Pensées, the human condition. Nicholas Hammond explores such
fundamental notions as language and order, proceeding with a detailed analysis of the words inconstance, ennui, inquiétude, bonheur, félicité, and justice. Developing and challenging the most recent scholarship about the text, Hammond identifies the crucial notion of play (as exemplified in the term divertissement) which underlies all these words
and applies his findings to the notoriously unstable concept of truth. Through the fragmentary nature of the Pensées and the shifting meaning of terms, Pascal is shown to be deliberately engaging the reader in a game to make sense of the text. Giving an in-depth account of a many important critical controversies of the day, as well as offering a novel and provocative insight into the persuasive purpose of the Pensées, this study will be of
interest to specialist and undergraduate readers alike.
`Hammond probably knows the Pensées better than anyone in England, and his use of Pascal's manuscript - his eye, for instance, for the significance of Pascal's erasures and rewritings - is particularly impressive ... his central claim ... is new and persuasive.'
Times Literary Supplement
`Hammond is extraordinarily well-informed as to what mnodern editors and scholars have had to say about Pascal's language and modes of thought. As a result of all this we get an unusually clear appreciation of Pascal's resources and choices...This is a well-conceived and well-executed investigation. It deserves and will receive, I am sure, careful study. The author faces squarely issue after issue as they come up, resolving them judiciously along the line
of thought that I have tried to indicate and always against his very rich background of reflection both on source materials and on recent critical discussions.'
A refreshingly new angle of reading the text is ...persuasively presented here.
`vigorous, rollicking stuff that reads very differently from Christopher Fry's free-verse adaptation.'
Forum for Modern Language Studies
Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs
Number Of Pages: 262
Published: 23rd June 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.0 x 14.5
Weight (kg): 0.45