9780754652410

The Family Crucuble in Eighteenth-century Literature

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780754652410

  • ISBN10:

    0754652416

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2005-08-01
  • Publisher: Ashgate Pub Co

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Summary

The French and British eighteenth centuries saw an evolution from authoritarian to individualistic family structures. Although most observers agree on this view of the changing social order, little has been written about literary representations of attendant changes in interpersonal relationships. Novels, plays and autobiography present experiments in egalitarian processes - collaboration, solidarity, and friendship - that strengthen individuals and relieve them of previous forms of docility. These examples mirror and imagine the transition from autocracy to republicanism. The categories of father, mother, child, sibling and friend occupy successive chapters in this study and reveal the changing nature and value of those roles as played in texts written by a broad spectrum of eighteenth-century authors. Some belong to the canon - Diderot, Fielding, Richardson, Roland, Rousseau; some have recently entered it - Charrière, Graffigny, Duras; and two will soon be more widely read and taught thanks to new editions of their works - Catherine Bernard and Olympe de Gouges. Choosing contrasting scenes of family-relationships, some that exhibit inter-subjective dialogue and some that reveal the brute exercise of authority, the author reads the opposites as highlighting the developmental opportunities implicit in empathic encounters between parent and child, among siblings and among friends. She witnesses traces of a new and sympathizing father, of a mother who acts in her daughter's defense, and of brothers, sisters and cousins who form friendships instead of competing for supplies. Some of the experiments in cooperation raise anxieties related to sibling-incest. Many texts reveal this conflict; and some, its resolution. New forms of peer-cooperation both oppose authority and rid themselves of guilt by crafting new ways of managing parallel relationships. Such pictures or scenes contain the germ of social experiments. From Catherine Bernard in the late seventeenth century to Claire de Duras in the early nineteenth, one finds tiny communities of peers dedicated to protecting the well-being of their constituents. They occupy a new imagined space lying between the microcosm of the hierarchical family and the macrocosm of the absolute monarchy. They try out a private yet republican form of association.

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii
Acknowledgements viii
Preface ix
Introduction 1(9)
1 Converting the Fathers, Raising the Sons 10(34)
Imagining Incest in Le Fils naturel
11(9)
Other Transgressions
20(12)
Family and State
32(3)
A Conversation with Her Father: The Mémoire de Mme de Valmont
35(9)
2 Mother and Daughter: The Fort-da of Kinship 44(32)
Foremothers
49(2)
The Virtue of Maternal Discourse: Graffigny's Cénie
51(15)
Synchrony
56(3)
Diachrony
59(2)
Incest Threatens
61(1)
Genre
62(1)
Myth
63(3)
Charrière's Modern Mother
66(4)
Her Mother's Watchdog
70(6)
3 Kneeling, Falling, and Sacrificed: The Children 76(32)
Closet Violence
76(8)
Scapegoats into Children
84(13)
Family Albums
97(11)
4 Friendship and the Sibling-horde 108(44)
Natural Women: Autonomy and Sisterhood in Laodamie reine d'Epire
110(7)
Sisters: The Bonds of Love
117(2)
Mourning Becomes the Hero
119(1)
Death and the Maidens
120(3)
Insufficiency of Being and the Double
123(9)
Splendors and Miseries of Sympathy: Edouard
132(3)
Themes and Variations
135(3)
Questing Behaviors
138(2)
Just Friends: Olivier ou le secret
140(2)
The Name of the Brother
142(1)
Physiology and Symbol
143(9)
5 The Self, For and Against 152(46)
Travels with the Self
154(10)
Getting Born
164(8)
Aboli Bibelot'
172(26)
Afterwords 198(8)
Incest
198(3)
Violence
201(2)
Sacrifice
203(3)
Works Cited 206(11)
Index 217

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