The Libertine’s Nemesis
The Prude in Clarissa and the roman libertin

James Fowler

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

4 February 2011  •  182pp

ISBN: 978-1-907625-01-5 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-315086-05-7 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

EnlightenmentFrenchEnglishFiction


What is the role of the prude in the roman libertin? James Fowler argues that in the most famous novels of the genre (by Richardson, Crébillon fils, Laclos and Sade) the prude is not the libertine's victim but an equal and opposite force working against him, and that ultimately she brings retribution for his social, erotic and philosophical presumption. In a word, she is his Nemesis. He is vulnerable to her power because of the ambivalence he feels towards her; she is his ideological enemy, but also his ideal object. Moreover, the libertine succumbs to an involuntary nostalgia for the values of the Seventeenth Century, which the prude continues to embody through the age of Enlightenment. In Crébillon fils and Richardson, the encounter between libertine and prude is played out as a skirmish or duel between two individuals. In Laclos and Sade, the presence of female libertines (the Marquise de Merteuil and Juliette) allows that encounter to be reenacted within a murderous triangle.

James Fowler teaches in the French Department at the University of Kent.

Reviews:

  • ‘The beguiling cover of this Legenda volume is well matched by the book’s contents. Fowler’s thesis is an original and well-argued one: the establishment of a symbiotic relationship between the libertine and the prude in a number of key eighteenth-century texts... the argument is persuasive and elegant, and we are swept along by the author’s enthusiasm for his subject.’ — John Phillips, French Studies 66.3, July 2012, 402

Bibliography entry:

Fowler, James, The Libertine’s Nemesis: The Prude in Clarissa and the roman libertin (Cambridge: Legenda, 2011)

First footnote reference: 35 James Fowler, The Libertine’s Nemesis: The Prude in Clarissa and the roman libertin (Cambridge: Legenda, 2011), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Fowler, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Fowler, James. 2011. The Libertine’s Nemesis: The Prude in Clarissa and the roman libertin (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Fowler 2011: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Fowler 2011: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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