Éclipse au féminin? Lettre citée dans les romans de Prévost

  1. Izabella Zatorska


Letters quoted in Prévost’s novels



What is the status of letters quoted in Abbé Prévost’s novels? Do they really, as it appears at first glance, reveal a truly feminine weakness of the male or female author of the epistle who writes to avoid confrontation with the protagonist-narrator? An analysis of several letters quoted in novels written in the first stage of the writer’s creative activity — Mémoires et aventures d’un Homme de qualité qui s’est retiré du monde (1728), Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (1731) — shows that this form, disappearing in the later novels in favour of a summary or quotation in (seemingly) reported speech, may be associated with a specific understanding of heroism as “everyday eschatology”. The situation of the protagonist receiving a letter (from a father entering a monastery or from an unfaithful lover) is defined by the paradoxical rhetoric of the letter. Concealment of the letter content or third-person accounts concern the events in which the intrigue — be it one dealing with family matters or politics — plays a crucial role, obscuring the original heroism, even in the ambiguous case of Manon’s “sacrifice”, which terrifies Des Grieux so much.

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Romanica Wratislaviensia

58, 2011

Pages from 145 to 156

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