Gerbrand Bredero Wants to Borrow a Painting. Proleptic Negotiation

Jeroen Jansen


In a letter to Badens, his painting teacher, Gerbrand Bredero asks for the loan of a painting to make a copy of it. The act of writing (a letter) requires a proactive role in managing the reader’s reactions. In what at first sight may look like a simple, insignificant and most of all polite letter, it is argued that, from the viewpoint of argumentation theory, negotiation and bargaining tactics, this politeness may be considered as a carefully devised and potentially effective strategy, contributing to pinning Badens to a promise, and to remove any possible objections from the latter in fulfilling his promise. Whilst starting the letter from the relatively powerless situation of a pupil asking his master to act, by showing a mutual interest and by applying anticipated argumentation and negotiation, Bredero seeks a reasonable balance which he simultaneously turns to his own advantage.


Proleptic Negotiation; Bargaining; Proleptic Argumentation; Pragma- Dialectical Theory; Request; Bredero; Epistolary Theory; Politeness Theory; Argumentation Theory; Strategy; Promise

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