Round up the usual suspects. The search for an ideology in La Princesse de Clèves

Campbell, J. (2006) Round up the usual suspects. The search for an ideology in La Princesse de Clèves. French Studies, 60(4), pp. 437-452. (doi: 10.1093/fs/knl169)

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This article considers various attempts to identify a clear structure of ideas, and their philosophical antecedents, in La Princesse de Clèves. These attempts arise naturally from the wide variations in interpretation that result from this novel's ambiguities. Many critics have made sense of the heroine's rejection of the man she loves by placing it in a religious framework, with roots in Augustinian/Jansenist thought, and thus in Neoplatonism. The influence of neo-Stoicism is also evident, for example in the mother's teaching and in her daughter's resistance to passion. However, these two currents of thought offer irreconcilable perspectives on free will. The situation is further complicated by the existence of an Epicurean dimension, in the value placed on prudence and on the retreat from emotional strife. Another element is Pyrrhonism, with its emphasis on the fragile basis of opinions and convictions. None of these ideologies offer an entirely persuasive explanation, yet they coexist uneasily. The difficulty of picking out totally convincing candidates from this identity parade necessarily leaves critics of this novel with questions as to the identity of our own hermeneutic endeavour.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Campbell, Professor John
Authors: Campbell, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:French Studies

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