verbal portraiture

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1659 was the banner year for verbal portraiture in France, marking the apogee of a mondain vogue that impelled seemingly all members of polite society to "paint" each other and/or themselves.
2) See, for example, Jacqueline Plantie's La Mode du portrait litteraire en France: 1641-1681 (Paris: Champion, 1994) 483-505; Nina Ekstein's "Le Misanthrope and Tartuffe: Two Critiques of Verbal Portraiture," Rivista di Letterature moderne e comparate 42.
His treatment of these individuals involves a good deal more, though, than simply indulging a taste for gossip or a talent for verbal portraiture.