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This thesis examines Francoise de Graffigny's eighteenthcentury novel, Lettres d'une Peruvienne. focusing on the aspects that demonstrate its consideration as a utopian work, or moreover, as a feminist utopian work. The first chapter is developed from the premise about utopian fiction that the author's life must be considered since it is out of his or her "lived social experience" that utopian visions are born. Utopias, many have argued, are born out of reactions to social inequities and injustices. This chapter thus presents and analyzes, Graffigny's life especially where it shows needs for a future utopia. The second chapter explores definitions of utopias, especially feminist literary utopias, in order to build a framework for analyzing Graffigny's work. It will be shown that this novel exhibits many of the traits found in a woman's utopia as opposed to those found in a man's. The third and fourth chapters directly analyze the text, Lettres d'une Peruvienne, using the research from the previous chapters as the groundwork to draw out the utopian aspects of the novel.
One of the most popular works of the eighteenth century, Lettres d'une Péruvienne appeared in more than 130 editions, reprints, and translations during the hundred years following its publi cation in 1747. In the novel the Inca princess Zilia is kidnapped by Spanish conquerors, captured by the French after a battle at sea, and taken to Europe. Graffigny's brilliant novel offered a bold critique of French society, delivered one of the most vehement feminist protests in eighteenth-century literature, and announced—fourteen years before Rousseau's Julie, or the New Eloise—the Romantic tradition in French literature.
In this compelling new addition to Sandra M. Gilbert’s Ad Feminam: Women and Literature series, Katharine Ann Jensen examines the cultural form of the love letter and its intersection with the novel in the works of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French women writers. Traditionally, French literary history has focused on eighteenth-century male writers Rousseau and Laclos as the master artists of the epistolary novel. That emphasis on one century, one gender, and one epistolary form—the novel—obscures the history of women’s writing in France. In the seventeenth century, the love letter was viewed as a feminine literary form in which a woman’s passionate and emotional "nature" found its logical expression. Such emotional writing was criticized for its structural and grammatical imperfections, rendering it—in the eyes of men—invalid as true "literary" material. However, men often wrote under female pseudonyms, composing letters of seduction and betrayal that were published as true accounts. Jensen contends that men disguised their words as women’s words because writing as women allowed them to experiment with narrative fiction at a time when men’s writing was rigidly defined by classical rhetoric. She further argues that men were able to moderate women’s linguistic strengths by limiting their epistolary expertise to a social, rather than literary, practice, thereby maintaining literature as an almost exclusively male province. Jensen argues for a tradition of women’s writing by examining both the love letters and novels of such writers as Desjardins, Ferrand, Graffigny, Riccoboni, and Lespinasse. In her novel Les Désordres de l’amour, Desjardins (Madame de Villedieu) creates an ambitious, letter-writing heroine. Through an analysis of the textual similarities between the heroine’s letters and Desjardins’s personal love letters to her unfaithful lover, Jensen concludes that Desjardins rewrites her own unfortunate epistolary relationship. Jensen draws similar conclusions from an examination of the personal letters of Ferrand in relation to her novel Histoire des amours de Cléante et de Bélise. In order to chart the legacy of seventeenth-century feminine epistolarity, Jensen goes on to consider the works of eighteenth-century French women writers. Like Desjardins’s novel, Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne and Riccoboni’s Lettres de Mistress Fanni Butlerd present letter-writing heroines who overturn the conventions of seduction and betrayal in order to claim their independence and desire to write. This desire correlates to Graffigny’s and Riccoboni’s own writing ambitions, thereby asserting the ability of women to write self-consciously, rather than emotionally, and to create narrative fiction rather than cyclical letters of love and suffering. Jensen demonstrates that these assertions constitute a significant break with seventeenth-century ideas about feminine letter writing that inextricably bind women to a supposedly natural language of sexual and literary disempowerment. This important and insightful book will prove a valuable addition to the libraries of scholars in French seventeenth- and eighteenth-century studies, feminist studies, epistolary fiction, and novel and narrative studies.
Encounters with the Other brings together a range of eighteenth-century texts in which the exploration of lingua incognita figures as a prominent topos . Drawing mostly on a corpus of French texts, but also including a number of works in English, Martin Calder attempts to realign well-known texts with more canonically marginalized works. The originality of the perspectives offered by this book lies in the comparative reading of works not previously conjoined. Encounters with otherness are marked by a transgression of the limits of language, occurring when language becomes alien or unfamiliar. Alterity may take various forms: a foreign language, a familiar language marked by the traits of foreignness, something unrecognizable as language, or even one's own language breaking down, as in madness. Unfamiliar language may be produced by a foreigner, by a child who cannot yet speak, in extreme cases by something unrecognizably human, in all cases by an agency somehow marked by difference. Narratives of encounters with otherness have written into them narratives of the discovery of the self. Implicitly informed by the reading techniques associated with literary theory, Encounters with the Other offers an insightful commentary on issues surrounding colonialism, cultural difference, gender and the importance of language to identity. Martin Calder's work challenges certain Eurocentric notions and exposes the problematic links between Enlightenment rationality and colonial expansion. This book is of interest both to undergraduate students and to academic researchers, and to a more general readership concerned with understanding the relationship between Europe, the 'West' and a wider world.
In a cultural shift around the mid-point of the French eighteenth century, the 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 general terms, and then through detailed analysis of three of the best-selling novels of the period. The turning-point is represented by Mme de Graffignys Lettres dune Péruvienne (1747, 1752) with its profound ambivalence towards knowledge. A new order is revealed and set out, but still declared lacking, in Rousseaus Julie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (1761). The visionary return to the organic wholeness of nature is offered by Bernardins Paul et Virginie (1788).
This collection of 16 essays offers an insight into the texts and contexts of 18th-century culture in America, Britain and Europe. Topics covered include: pastoralism; Augustanism; the aesthetic; hysteria; female alienation; German Enlightenment; knowledge; charity; and Gothicism.

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