Taking One’s Distance

Jon R. Snyder

in Dissimulation and the Culture of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780520228191
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944442 | DOI:
Taking One’s Distance

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The exploration of the discourse in terms of civil dissimulation that circulated in Italy and Europe during the early modern period serves as the main part of the four sections presented here. The necessary involvement of dissimulation in politeness had brought about the concept of the limit as the unspoken law of civility. In exchange for a gain in personal security, the analysis of the ability to control the flow of information about one's inner state indicated that the honest dissimulator had to submit to its own self-analysis. In addition, dissimulation was seen in a positive light precisely because it withheld intimate secrets from the ongoing public exchange of opinions, ideas, and passions. This is where the moral and ethical implications of this “inky” strategy have troubled the many who were never recognized.

Keywords: information; Italy; law; dissimulator; civility

Chapter.  17655 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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