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When Opposites Attract: Moral Polarity in Sade’s 'Aline et Valcour'

Fowler, James (2011) When Opposites Attract: Moral Polarity in Sade’s 'Aline et Valcour'. Neophilologus, 95 (1). pp. 51-63. ISSN 0028-2677. E-ISSN 1572-8668. (doi:10.1007/s11061-010-9203-7) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:42709)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11061-010-9203-7

Abstract

Sade is often seen as an author who wishes to convey a particular view of the world in his novels. It is well known that in life he passionately embraced a philosophy that was at once monist-materialist and libertine. This article explores the curious fact that it is difficult to locate a corresponding ‘message’ in Aline et Valcour, which is subtitled Le roman philosophique. One important reason for this is the influence of Richardson’s Clarissa. Both novels are built around an opposition between the supporters of two ‘camps’: Christian virtue and libertinage. In Aline et Valcour no less than in Clarissa, these camps are prepared to fight to the death. But in each of these novels, too, the opposition is not a straightforward one, for it has a symbiotic aspect. The libertines need the virtuous in order to achieve their goal of desecrating, and so symbolically defeating, the Christian view of the world. But the virtuous also need their libertine persecutors if they are to achieve the feats of moral suffering, associated with sensibilité, that constitute their highest aim. In brief, Aline et Valcour obeys a Richardsonian aesthetic in which each side is allowed to fight its cause without being definitively supported or undermined by the (implied) author. This helps to explain why, considered as a ‘philosophical novel’, it seems heuristic rather than dogmatic.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s11061-010-9203-7
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: N. Isaeva
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2014 10:36 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 13:01 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/42709 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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