1657 French Pamphlet Denouncing the Provincial Letters Written Secretly by Jansenist Blaise Pascal

1657 French Pamphlet Denouncing the Provincial Letters Written Secretly by Jansenist Blaise Pascal
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Price: $295.00


Description: This two-leaf bulletin was issued by the French government in 1657 denouncing the publication of a series of letters defending the French Catholic theologian Antoine Arnauld (1612-1694). Arnauld had been ousted from the Faculté de Théologie at the Sorbonne and condemned as a heretic for his openly Jansenist views in 1656. Jansenism was a movement within the Catholic Church that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination, and was vehemently opposed by the Jesuits.
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), in defense of his friend Arnauld, secretly wrote the so-called “provincial letters” under the guise of a Parisian reporting to a friend in the provinces about the moral and theological issues that were sweeping the capital. Pascal wrote a total of eighteen letters between January 23, 1656 and March 24, 1657. This pamphlet was published February 9, 1657, a little over a month before the final letter was written. The brilliantly written letters adopted a humorous tone while accusing the Jesuits of moral laxity and were widely read by the citizens of France. Pope Alexander VII, though he publically condemned the letters, seems to have been persuaded by Pascal’s arguments because, a few years later, he denounced laxity in the church and ordered a revision of several texts.
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, writer, and Catholic theologian. He was a child prodigy who invented one of the first mechanical calculators while he was still a teenager, wrote a significant treatise on projective geometry at sixteen, and corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory which heavily influenced modern economics and social science. The prose of his provincial letters, replete with mockery and vicious satire, influenced such notable French writers as Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Text in French. 8 5/8” x 6 ½”. Item #DA00202.
Condition: Inked date at top of first page, “41” also written on first page in crayon [?], left edge looks like the pamphlet was once bound, has remnants of string binding, wear along the left edge, damp staining on blank margins, otherwise in good condition.