Caroline Moorehead

Manners elevated to a high art

No society has ever thought about itself more intensely, or spent more time considering how best to present itself, than the ancien régime in France for the 150 years or so which led up to the revolution. As Benedetta Craveri demonstrates in her excellent and extremely readable The Art of Conversation, this ideal of living well, with elegance, courtesy and exquisite manners, giving pleasure to others and to oneself, became not only an art but an end in itself.

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