French Dressinglooks at the ancien r&�gime's scenarios of libertine seduction--unsafe sex and its consequences for women's lives. It places the gender performances of male and female-authored novels in dialogue in order to recover the complexity of a century obsessed, as we are today, with writing and living plots of desire. FrenchDressingexposes the erotic anxieties behind a national culture of sexual self-display--French undressing.
French Dressinglooks at the ancien regime's scenarios of libertine seduction--unsafe sex and its consequences for women's lives. It places the gender performances of male and female-authored novels in dialogue in order to recover the complexity of a century obsessed, as we are today, with writing and living plots of desire. FrenchDressingexposes the erotic anxieties behind a national culture of sexual self-display--French undressing.
Novelists in pre-Revolutionary France were fascinated by what has come to be called compulsory heterosexuality', ritualized public performances of male/female relations as the ultimate human bond. Plots of seduction and betrayal glamourized by the Liasons Dangereuses demonstrate how complicated and treacherous these performances were. French Dressing scrutinizes the ancien regime's practices of unsafe sex, the scenarios of libertinage in which both sexes were equally stylish antagonists. It also shows that women paide unequally, sometimes fatally, for the power games of libertine experiments. In the works of male writers - Laclos and Sade, Duclos and Prost - the shape of narrative requires the staging of sexual conquest, rhetorical and literal undressing. The works of the women novelists who were their contemporaries - Tencin, Graffigny, Riccoboni, Charriere - also configure the social relations between the sexes but shift the emphasis to the aftermath of sexual plot: the emotional and physical consequences of a power-driven economy.
Nancy K. Miller
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Table Of Content
I Reading in Pairs: 1. Repairing the Tradition; II Men's Reading, Women's Writing: 2. Rereading as a Woman: The Body in Practice; 3. Men's Reading, Women's Writing: Gender and the Rise of the Novel; 4. Cultural Memory and the Art of the Novel: Gender and Narrative in Eighteenth-Century France; 5. 1735: The Gender of the Memoir-Novel; III "I's" in Drag: 6. "I's" in Drag: The Sex of Recollection; 7. L'Histoire d'une Grecque moderne: No-Win Hermeneutics; 8. Justine, Or, the Vicious Circle; 9. Juliette and the Posterity of Prosperity; IV Exquisite Cadavers: 10. The Exquisite Cadavers: Women in Eighteenth-Century Fiction; 11. Tender Economies: Mme De Villedieu and the Costs of Indifference; 12. "Tristes Triangles": Le Lys dans la vallee and Its Intertext; 13. Novels of Innocence: Fictions of Loss.