The World Upside Down in 16th-Century French Literature and Visual Culture


In The World Upside Down in 16th Century French Literature and Visual Culture Vincent Robert-Nicoud offers an interdisciplinary account of the topos of the world upside down in early modern France. To call something ‘topsy-turvy’ in the sixteenth century is to label it as abnormal. The topos of the world upside down evokes a world in which everything is inside-out and out of bounds: fish live in trees, children rule over their parents, and rivers flow back to their source. The world upside down proves to be key in understanding how the social, political, and religious turmoil of sixteenth-century France was represented and conceptualised, and allows us to explore the dark side of the Renaissance by unpacking one of its most prevalent metaphors.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Vincent Robert-Nicoud, D.Phil. (2016), University of Oxford, has published articles on various aspects of early modern French literature, especially on polemic and satire during the French wars of religion.
"Robert-Nicoud is to be applauded for introducing readers to a wealth of polemical treatises, emblems, and images that had significant contemporary importance, but many of which have fallen into near oblivion. [...] Overall, this is a fine book by a young scholar who brings to bear an impressive level of erudition to show his readers how the image of the world upside down evolves and becomes something much more menacing as the sixteenth century progressed."
- Bruce Hyes, University of Kansas, in Emblematica: Essays in Word and Image, vol. 3., 2019, pp. 331-333
List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Sixteenth-Century World Upside Down

1 Adages, Paradoxes and Emblems
 1 Erasmus’s Adages of Inversion
 2 Paradoxes
 3 Moral Emblems
 4 Carnivalesque Emblems
 5 Emblems of the Religious Wars
 6 Conclusion

2 Rabelais’s World Upside Down
 1 Carnivalesque Rituals
 2 Grotesque Body
 3 Wisdom and Folly
 4 Conclusion

3 Religious Satire and Overturned Cooking Pots
 1 The Cooking Pot Trope
 2 Huguenot Satires
 3 Rabelais’s Posthumous Tradition
 4 Catholic Responses
 5 Conclusion

4 Social and Cosmic Disorders
 1 France as a World Upside Down
 2 Millenarianism and Apocalypse
 3 Monsters and Polemic
 4 Conclusion

General Conclusion
 Primary Sources
 Secondary Sources
Index Nominum
Researchers, postgraduate and undergraduate students in early modern French literature, history, and art history, anyone interested in the French religious wars, satire, and polemic.
  • Collapse
  • Expand