Nor does Bastide rely on a vocabulary of physiognomy, prevalent throughout eighteenthcentury French literature, ... and which persists in eighteenthcentury fiction, in which participants must necessarily play a role in a society that ...
Author: Paul J. Young
Category: Literary Criticism
As he demonstrates that narratives of seduction function as a master plot for French literature in the eighteenth century, Paul Young argues that the prevalence of this trope was a reaction to a dominant cultural discourse that coded the novel and the new practice of solitary reading as dangerous, seductive practices. Situating his study in the context of paintings, educational manuals, and criticism that caution against the act of reading, Young considers both canonical and lesser-known works by authors that include Rousseau, Sade, Bastide, Laclos, Crébillon fils, and the writers of two widely read libertine novels. How these authors responded to a cultural climate that viewed literature, and especially the novel, as seductive, sheds light on the perils and pleasures of authorship, the ways in which texts interact with the larger cultural discourse, and what eighteenth-century texts tell us about the dangers of reading or writing. Ultimately, Young argues, the seduction not in the text, but by the text raises questions about the nature of pleasure in eighteenth-century French literature and culture.