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Literary Fortifications

Literary Fortifications: Rousseau, Laclos, Sade

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Literary Fortifications
    Book Description:

    This highly original interpretation of the novel of the French Classical age explores military strategy as a central metaphor in Rousseau's Julie and Emile, Laclos' Les Liaisons dangereuses, and Sade's Les 120 Journees de Sodome.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5375-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A Note on References
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    During the past twenty years, the major figures of the French eighteenth century have been the object of a telling renewal of interest. Literary critics and historians have returned to them time and again in their efforts to uncover the origins of our modernity. Perhaps the most provocative contribution to this revitalization of Enlightenment studies has been what might be called—to borrow a term generally associated with only one of the schools I have in mind—the deconstruction(s) of eighteenth-century thought. The major recent figures of French intellectual life, including Derrida and Lacan, have been involved in endeavors that...

  6. I Vauban’s Fortresses and the Defense of French Classicism
    (pp. 20-75)

    I read, some days past, that the man who ordered the creation of the almost infinite wall of China was that first Emperor, Shih Huang Ti, who also decreed that all the books prior to him be burned. That these two vast operations—the five to six hundred leagues of stone opposing the barbarians, the rigorous abolition of history, that is, of the past—should originate in one person and be in some way his attributes inexplicably satisfied and, at the same time, disturbed me.

    Jorge Luis Borges, “The Wall and the Books”

    The Louvre’s Grande Galerie may well be...

  7. II La Fontaine’s Crafty Parable: The Pedagogical Trap
    (pp. 76-95)

    In the beginning of the last book of theConfessions,Rousseau describes the attacks on him from all sides when he was exiled from France after the publication ofEntile: “J’étois un impie, un athée, un forcené, un enragé, une bête féroce, un loup. Le continuateur du journal de Trévoux fit sur ma prétendue Lycantropie un écart qui montrait assez bien la sienne.”¹ Rousseau attempts to deflect this attack by turning it against his aggressor—“un écart qui montrait assez bien la sienne.” He uses what is perhaps his favorite defensive strategy—one to which Freud often refers in his...

  8. III The Oblique Way: Defensive Swerves
    (pp. 96-111)

    Jacques Lacan frequently uses elements of fortification as metaphors for the structures of defense. On at least one occasion, he makes explicit the almost automatic association (for a Frenchman) between fortifications and Vauban:

    Ces noeuds sont plus difficiles à rompre, on le sait, dans la névrose obsessionnelle, justement en raison de ce fait bien connu de nous que sa structure est particulièrement destinée à camoufler, à déplacer, à nier, à diviser et à amortir l’intention agressive, et cela selon une décomposition défensive, si comparable en ses principes à celle qu’illustrent le redan et la chicane, que nous avons entendu plusieurs...

  9. IV Julie and Emile: “Studia la Matematica”
    (pp. 112-190)

    Je sais que toutes nos grandes fortifications sont la chose du monde la plus inutile, et que, quand nous aurions assés de troupes pour les défendre, cela seroit fort inutile encore: car sûrement on ne viendra pas nous assiéger. Mais, pour n’avoir point de siège à craindre, nous n’en devons pas moins veiller à nous garantir de toute surprise: rien n’est si facile que d’assembler des gens de guerre à notre voisinage. Nous avons trop appris l’usage qu’on en peut faire, et nous devons songer que les plus mauvais droits hors d’une place se trouvent excellens quand on est dedans....

  10. V Les Liaisons dangereuses: Writing under the Other’s Name
    (pp. 191-262)

    Nous ne sommes plus au temps de madame de Sévigné.

    La Marquise de Merteuil

    René Pomeau begins the introduction to his edition ofLes Liaisons dangereusesby embroidering the single literary myth most enticing for a study on literature and defense. He imagines Laclos composing his novel as a replacement for the attack that would not come to test the fortifications this artilleryman-turned-engineer had at long last been permitted to build. The setting for this defensive (melo)drama is theîle d’Aixwhere Laclos was assigned to direct the construction of a system of defenses to protect the military port of...

  11. VI Inside the Sadean Fortress: Les 120 Journées de Sodome
    (pp. 263-326)

    Tout le monde sait à quel point la géometrie est attachante: l’exemple d’Archimède tué au siège de Syracuse sans quitter les yeux de dessus son papier en est une preuve bien forte.

    Sade, letter to his wife (4 March 1781)

    During seven months in 1794 (27 March-15 October), Sade and Laclos were fellow prisoners in theMaison de santéat Picpus. Laclos was confined to anenceintejust when he was beginning to achieve a certain military success. He spent the months prior to his detainment working on his pet invention, theboulet creux,and after his release he went...

  12. VII Under the Walls of the Fortress of Classicism
    (pp. 327-346)

    Diderot’s reflections on the Great Wall of China contain in germ both the Sun King’s and Vauban’s theories on the role of defensive structures. The creative genius behind theEncyclopédie,like the founding father of France’scorps de génie,imagines that perfect fortifications would simultaneously protect against the unenlightened and create a territory so secure that an intellectual golden age could flower within its confines. He admires the magnificence of the emperor’s defensive complex, but condemns the use of fortifications for dazzling, blinding control rather than enlightenment. Yet, as the example of France’s then recent Golden Age demonstrates, to the...

  13. Index
    (pp. 347-355)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 356-356)