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The 'Libertine' from Charles Sorel to Laclos
Course code: FREN4102.
Course unit value: 0.5.
From seventeenth-centurty libertinism to the libertinism of the eighteenth century
embodied in such figures as Mme de Merteuil and Valmont (in Les Liaisons
dangereuses), the shift is from intricate philosophical debate (naturalism, epicurean
philosophy) to social and erotic intrigues. This option 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.
Assessment: one unseen three-hour written examination (100%).
Tutor: Dr Isabelle Moreau.
Preparatory reading and set texts:
- Charles Sorel, Histoire comique de Francion – ed. 1633 (Gallimard Folio Classique,1996).
- Cyrano de Bergerac, Les Etats et Empires de la Lune (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).
Further reading will be indicated in due course.