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Document Details :

Title: Philosophus Modernus (Antwerp, 1772)
Subtitle: A Late, Anti-Voltairean Jesuit School Play
Author(s): DE SUTTER, Nicholas
Journal: Lias
Volume: 45    Issue: 1   Date: 2018   
Pages: 145-201
DOI: 10.2143/LIAS.45.1.3285542

Abstract :
In comparison with neighbouring regions, Jesuit school drama of the Provincia Flandro-Belgica has been relatively understudied, which is mainly due to the low number of surviving plays. This article offers the first edition and analysis of one such play, Philosophus modernus, a short Latin comedy written and performed at the Antwerp Jesuit college in 1772, just one year prior to the suppression of the Jesuit Order. Rare on account of its young age and prose style, Philosophus modernus is particularly interesting as a document attesting to Jesuit Francophobia and their use of school plays as a weapon of Counter-Enlightenment. Meant as a cautionary tale for the Jesuit students, the play centres on a young man from Antwerp who has come back from his studies in Paris, where he has been imbued with anti-Christian Enlightenment ideas. Back home, the atheist ‘modern philosopher’ is particularly infatuated with the oeuvre of Voltaire, much to the concern of his family. The Jesuit play can be read as a direct attack on la philosophie through Voltaire, while deriving its strength from an intertextual play with the Latin comedies of Charles Porée, Voltaire’s favourite Jesuit teacher.

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