Regressive Fictions
Graffigny, Rousseau, Bernardin

Robin Howells

Legenda (General Series)

Legenda

24 August 2007  •  148pp

ISBN: 978-1-904350-86-6 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-351195-95-9 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

EnlightenmentFrenchFiction


Around the mid-point of the French eighteenth century, the aristocratic mode of wit is increasingly displaced by bourgeois pathos. Social sophistication and sexual experience are rejected in favour of a retreat into ideal imagination. Instead of 'the novel of worldliness', we encounter fictions of better worlds: original, natural, familial, innocent and harmonious, protected against reality and time. The regressive shift is traced in this study in broad cultural terms, and then through detailed analysis of three of the best-selling novels of the period. The turning-point is represented by Mme de Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne (1747, 1752), with its profound ambivalence towards knowledge. A new order is revealed and set out, but still declared lacking, in Rousseau's Julie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (1761). The visionary return to the organic wholeness of nature is offered by Bernardin's Paul et Virginie (1788).

Robin Howells is Professor of French at Birkbeck, University of London

Reviews:

  • ‘Robin Howells investigates the connections between three eighteenth-century best-sellers in chronological order... everyone will find fresh insights on the eighteenth-century success stories.’ — Simon Davies, French Studies 63.1, 2009, 88-89

Bibliography entry:

Howells, Robin, Regressive Fictions: Graffigny, Rousseau, Bernardin (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007)

First footnote reference: 35 Robin Howells, Regressive Fictions: Graffigny, Rousseau, Bernardin (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Howells, p. 47.

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

Bibliography entry:

Howells, Robin. 2007. Regressive Fictions: Graffigny, Rousseau, Bernardin (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Howells 2007: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Howells 2007: 21.

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


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