The Introduction sets out the rationale of this book. It presents the present study as a ‘backstory’ to Molière’s L’Avare, or, more accurately, as a pre-history to that work: an account of ‘what precedes a given threshold’ (Terence Cave). The Introduction traces the origins of the French term avarice, from the Old Testament to the French Renaissance. Augustinian understanding of avaritia is given prominence, as are the seven deadly sins, medieval venality satire, and the passage of avaritia to avarice in the French vernacular. A particular focus is Poggio Bracciolini’s De avaritia (1428), a treatise which shows the first signs of mobile thinking about avarice. The final section of the Introduction sketches out major lines of enquiry vis-à-vis avarice in late Renaissance France. A brief overview of each chapter is provided.
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