Fénelon’s conception of luxury. Looking for an “heureuse et élégante simplicité”
This paper aims to analyse François Fénelon’s conception of luxury by comparing two texts of very different nature. On the one hand, his Les Aventures de Télémaque (1699), a novel (which is also a specula principium and a treatise on political science) aimed at the education of the young Duke of Burgundy, nephew of Louis XIV. On the other, the Tables de Chaulnes (1711), a plan of government that Fénelon wrote to provide the Duke of Burgundy – who was, by then, official heir to the throne – with a “projet pour le present”, a series of tactical measures that were supposed to start what he felt was a much needed reform of France. The interweaving of theoretical reflection and practical planning that results from this comparative approach will allow us to highlight the telling nuances, ambivalences, hesitations, and even internal contradictions that shaped the thought of this great representative of the “crise de la conscience européenne”.