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FREN4102 - 'The Libertine' from Charles Sorel to Laclos

Value: 0.5 course units
Dr Isabelle Moreau
Teaching structure:
one unseen three-hour written examination (100%).

Module Description:

From seventeenth-centurty libertinism to the libertinism of the eighteenth century
embodied in such figures as Mme de Merteuil and Valmont (in Les Liaisons
), the shift is from intricate philosophical debate (naturalism, Epicurean
philosophy) to social and erotic intrigues. This module studies this shift from the point of view of textual representations and explains how libertinism becomes literature. We shall look at what was called ‘libertinism’ and study its related terms (‘libertin’, ‘libertinage’, libertas philosophandi, ‘licence’, permissiveness etc). As the libertine author is also a textual figure, we shall compare it to what we know about him as a writer dealing with dangerous matters, and try to link up the ideological stakes of free thinking to a pragmatic approach to literary texts.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Charles Sorel, Histoire comique de Francion, ed. 1633 (Gallimard Folio Classique,1996).
  • Cyrano de Bergerac, Les Etats et Empires du Soleil (Honoré Champion / Seuil, 2004).
  • Molière, Dom Juan (any edition).
  • Crébillon, Les égarements du coeur et de l’esprit (GF- Flammarion).
  • Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons dangereuses (Garnier-Flammarion).

A full reading list will be provided on the module's Moodle site in due course.