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Les caractères de l’homme sans passions

Antoine Le Grand, Les caractères de l’homme sans passions

This work by Antoine Le Grand was previously unidentified in the collection of the Old Library. Judging by the layout of the work and the number of missing pages, this copy is most likely the edition published by J. Le Gras in Paris in 1682.
Le Grand’s work first appeared in 1662 as Le sage des Stoiques, ou l’homme sans passions. Selon des sentimens de Seneque, published in The Hague. The following year it was published anonymously in Paris as Les caractères de l’homme sans passions, selon les sentiments de Senèque. Its popularity grew steadily across Europe. It was published again in Lyons in 1665 and was first “Englished” in 1675 as Man without passion, or, The wise stoick, according to the sentiment of Seneca, indicating a growing European audience for such works.

Le Grand’s book represents an interesting juncture between courtesy works, spiritual guidance and indeed the changing philosophical landscape. While this work pre-dated his “Cartesian” years, it suggests that for many thinkers and writers of the period, penning a work that dealt with the inner turmoil of man, and his attempts to reconcile himself with society at large was a vibrant subject on which to publish. By no means were these works quaint or affected; they addressed the very serious subject of “how to live”.