Fictions of love: le mal D'Amour and its transmission in La Princesse de Cleves.
Before examining these figural representations, I would like to consider direct descriptions of love in this novel and, especially, the terms used to represent it. (2) It would be unnecessary to demonstrate at great length the negative light in which love is depicted in the novel so my comments here will be brief and will focus on Lafayette's preference for the term passion to describe her Princess's experience.
LAFAYETTE'S LEXICON OF LOVE
First some statistical observations: the notion of "love" is referred to as a noun some 220 times in the novel (roughly once a page in most modern editions), divided unequally in the following way: amour (50 times), galanterie (22 times), inclination (32 times), passion (116 times). (3) The listing of these terms in alphabetical order, usually employed to represent neutrality, corresponds roughly, in this case, with the connotative weight--the non-neutrality associated with each word in classical discourse.
Lafayette seems to go to great lengths to avoid speaking of amour in a neutral way. Indeed, occurrences of the noun "amour" have relatively limited presence in La Princesse de Cleves, less than a quarter of the nouns in the semantic field. In the first chapter, for example, "amour" is used only six times, always in either a negative or a mixed, "impure" sense. The first occurrence refers to love's absence in the diplomatic marriage the King seeks to arrange between Queen Elizabeth and Nemours: (4) "une Reine qui ne m'a jamais vu[,] me veuille epouser par amour" (337). The narrator later generalizes this observation for the court of France: "Il y avait tant d'interets et tant de cabales differentes, et les dames y avaient tant de part, que l'amour etait toujours mele aux affaires, et les affaires a l'amour" (341). Most importantly, though, the word amour appears in Madame de Chartres's famous lessons on love addressed to her daughter: "elle faisait souvent a sa fille des peintures de l'amour; elle lui montrait ce qu'il a d'agreable, pour la persuader plus aisement sur ce qu'elle lui en apprenait de dangereux; elle lui contait le peu de sincerite des hommes, leurs tromperies et leur infidelite" (338). This is, of course, essentially the book's thesis, presented in the most balanced terms possible. Lafayette's depiction of the Princess's experience will mostly exploit, however discreetly, a more charged lexicon.
The two most difficult and historically dated alternative terms are inclination and galanterie. The first of these, for the first readers of La Princesse de Cleves, could not fail to evoke Madeleine de Scudery's allegorical Carte de Tendre, in which Inclination was the name of the principal city and the river that rushed amorous travelers to the capital and, quite often, past their destination into "la Mer dangeureuse." The literature of preciosite, like Madame de Chartres's lesson, warned women against this danger. The Princess's overpowering feelings for Nemours will, consequently, be described more than a dozen times as an inclination. As for galanterie, often either a synonym or masculine double for preciosite, its importance has been amply demonstrated in the last quarter century, especially in a series of publications by Alain Viala, who considers it to be an essential touchstone in French classical culture. La Princesse de Cleves opens with a reference to "la magnificence et la galanterie" (331) as the defining features of Henri Il's proto-classical court.
After we begin to see the court through Madame de Chartres's eyes, this idealized description is replaced with the darker phrase "l'ambition et la galanterie" as "l'ame de cette cour" (341).
Though galanterie is frequently confused not only with preciosite but also with the apparently benign (though equally complex) notion of honnetete, (5) Viala has traced the word back to the "Old French galer, ... to play tricks, to make show of cunningness and deceit [...]. Traditionally, then, the galant is first of all an individual lacking in seriousness, perhaps even a swindler, a thief, or a seducer, or more specifically, one who robs his victims of virtue" ("Les Signes Galants" 19). Galanterie, thus, for its luster, makes victims of its prey, no less so than inclination.
But the key descriptor of the Princess's tragic love is passion. Furetiere, first among French lexicographers, begins his definition of "passion" as a "terme de physique, relatif et oppose a l'action, qui se dit lorsque quelque corps recoit ou souffre l'action de quelque agent" before adding that "[ce mot] signifie aussi souffrance corporelle" with specific reference to Christ's Passion. Eventually Furetiere moves from physical, scientific, theological and philosophical associations of the term to its more common moralist usage: "se dit par excellence de l'amour. 'Il n'y a rien de si honnete qu'une ancienne amitie; et rien de si honteux qu'une vieille passion.' S[AIN]T[-] EV[REMOND]." This surprising first citation chosen to illustrate amourpassion reflects the distrust proper to passion during the latter seventeenth century. In the novel, the first appearance of passion comes in the second sentence where Henri II, "galant, bien fait, et amoureux," is immediately characterized by his "passion pour Diane de Poitiers" still violent after all these twenty years. Passion is, thus, at the heart of the dazzling evocation of Henri Il's court as a place where hyperbolic beauty and grandeur set the tone. It also completes the set of apparently simple but, in reality, quite troubling set of terms that will describe the Princess's ordeal.
FICTIONS OF LOVE AND LE MAL D'AMOUR
The preceding paragraphs may serve essentially as a recollection of ideas buried just beneath the surface of western discourse on love, ideas that Lafayette sows again as seeds--or, as I will argue, plants as a contagion--in her novel. It is hardly news to say that amour-passion is centrally situated in the novel and is lexically marked as suffering. Again, the notion of a mal d'amour is well inscribed in European culture, as far back at least as Petrarch. It is equally common to speak of remedies or cures for an unhappy love, though Lafayette does so rather sparingly: "remede" four times (two of which are references to "l'aveu" the Princess makes to her husband); and "guerir/guerie" only three times. Nonetheless, the novel is filled with references to illness and one might confidently conclude that illness in La Princesse de Cleves is generally caused by love.
The self-evidence of this diagnosis is both confirmed and challenged in its usual interpretation by a recent, probing study of the Princess's illness by Bernadette Hofer, in her book Psychosomatic Disorders in Seventeenth-Century French Literature. Hofer examines the mal d'amour from beginning to end--its pathology and symptomology, its progressions and therapies, and she illustrates how Lafayette's accounts of this illness (in La Princesse de Cleves and earlier works) compare to contemporary scientific knowledge and philosophical perspectives, focusing especially on Cartesian conceptions of unruly passion, its pathology and its cures. In another important study entitled The Aesthetic Body, Erec Koch has proposed a revised understanding of the mind body problem in early modern culture, focusing in his first chapter on Cartesian physiology as the description and maintenance of an "aesthetic machine"--reactive, sentient, and potentially controlled by reason. Koch also shows that Descartes was keenly aware of the existence of psychosomatic illness and hoped, through that awareness, to be able to find a cure for destructive passions. (6)
First in his correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and then in his Passions de l'ame, Descartes showed how the mentally ill patient (as we would call him/her today) could, through understanding, therapeutic self-regulation and disciplined retraining, overcome the excesses and suffering of the passions. Descartes's princess describes herself as ailing both from a "melancolie," caused or exacerbated by a fraught public and family life, and physical distress: for example, "la fievre lente et la toux seche, qui ne me quitte pas encore" (letter of 24 May 1645; 4.208). Elisabeth embraces Descartes's diagnosis of a psychosomatic source for illness but confesses that, not unlike Lafayette's fictional princess, she is unable to get ahead of her suffering:
Vos lettres me servent toujours d'antidote contre la melancolie, quand elles ne m'enseigneraient pas, detournant mon esprit des objets desagreables qui lui surviennent tous les jours, pour lui faire contempler le bonheur que je possede dans l'amitie d'une personne de votre merite, au conseil duquel je puis commettre la conduite de ma vie. [...]
Mais je ne l'ai jamais su pratiquer qu'apres que la passion avait joue son role. Il y a quelque chose de surprenant dans les malheurs, quoique prevus, dont je ne suis maitresse qu'apres un certain temps, auquel mon corps se desordonne si fort, qu'il me faut plusieurs mois pour le remettre, qui ne se passent guere sans quelque nouveau sujet de trouble. (Letter of 22 June 1645; 4.233)
Throughout their extensive correspondence, Elisabeth remains committed to understanding and practicing Descartes's lessons but shows an increasing despair in her inability to cure herself. Though this real-life princess's passions are not described as amorous, Elisabeth's experience might well help us understand the fictional princess's delicate condition. Cartesian belief in the efficacy of the will or cognitive remedies in reducing passionate suffering is seen by Lafayette as "utopian," in Hofer's analysis (149). Indeed, this critic concludes that, for Lafayette, love is in essence an illness without a cure, short of the host's physical self-destruction. Hofer, thus, very convincingly describes Lafayette's project in La Princesse de Cleves as a kind of clear-eyed medical record of passion's progress, a progress that leads ultimately to the death of the patient.
Not to detract in the slightest from Koch's and Hofer's important contributions to the history of scientific ideas in literary studies, I would like to focus on intra-literary explanations for love's illness in the novel. In particular, to borrow metaphorically from the medical model, it would be useful to give more attention to the immunological or prophylactic measures taken by Madame de Chartres early in the first chapter. Hofer asserts, from a Freudian and anti-Jansenist perspective, that the Princess's mother "instills and maintains in her daughter an almost psychotic fear of the prohibited space of passion and sexuality" (153)--presumably, in so doing, attacking the contagion before it takes root. Though there is little doubt that Madame de Chartres's efforts to protect her daughter from love's harm are mostly ineffective, they do not seem to be presented in the novel as illegitimate or in themselves destructive. Indeed, the mother is frequently considered to be a sort of sober-minded proto-precieuse who wants to protect her daughter from falling into the common lot of women. If Madame de Chartres had been an active participant to the feminine discourse on love developed in literary salons of Lafayette's times, she might well have been inspired, first- or second-hand, by hearing La Rochefoucauld's Maxime 182: "Les vices entrent dans la composition des vertus comme les poisons entrent dans la composition des remedes. La prudence les assemble et les tempere, et elle s'en sert utilement contre les maux de la vie." What is striking and, in fact, innovative in the education offered by Madame de Chartres is precisely her dosing of stories of poisonous love within fortifying celebrations of female virtue (quoted above). Rather than a remedy, she concocts an inoculation for her daughter who, raised far from the court, has little or no resistance to the disease and, as such is repeatedly "exposee au milieu de la Cour" (349, 419).
FIGMENTS OF A LOVER'S DISCOURSE
At least from a medical perspective, Madame de Chartres is very forward thinking in her idea of using the disease against itself, or as a kind of pharmakon. Lafayette, in turn, seems to play with this logic by having her other characters use ambiguous illness itself not exactly as a cure for love but at least as a temporary treatment of its symptoms. Feigned illness, as Hofer recognizes, is frequently used to protect love's victims against further exposure. Indeed, on about a dozen occasions, illness is feigned or used as a pretext to hide one's love or to hide from a lover. It will be useful to consider some of these occurrences that, though similar, present an interesting variety, a kind of leitmotiv of love as a fictional illness, with theme and variation.
The first instance of feigned illness related to love is already somewhat ironic: after learning that Nemours would rather not have his lover be present at a ball that he could not attend himself, the Princess decides not to go to the marechal de Saint-Andre's divertissement, though her reasoning (seen by her mother as "particuliere"--a first sign of the Princess's rejection of past examples) is convoluted: "Elle entra aisement dans l'opinion qu'il ne fallait pas aller chez un homme [Saint-Andre] dont on etait aimee, et elle fut bien aise d'avoir une raison de severite pour faire une chose qui etait une faveur pour M. de Nemours" (361). So, somewhat reluctantly, Madame de Chartres approves of this ruse though she only understands the first half of her daughter's motivations:
Madame de Chartres combattit quelque temps l'opinion de sa fille, comme la trouvant particuliere; mais, voyant qu'elle s'y opiniatrait, elle s'y rendit, et lui dit qu'il fallait donc qu'elle fit la malade, pour avoir un pretexte de n'y pas aller, parce que les raisons qui l'en empechaient ne seraient pas approuvees, et qu'il fallait meme empecher qu'on ne les soupconnat. (361)
After her mother's death, the Princess will repeatedly have recourse to feigned illness no longer as a "favor" to Nemours but as protection against him. (7) Yet, inasmuch as both are manifestations of the mal d'amour, this distinction proves to be fairly irrelevant.
The ploy of feigned illness is used so often that the very complaint of illness is soon seen as a symptom of passion both by the attentive reader and by the characters themselves--especially the prince de Cleves who correctly interprets his wife's mal as proof of her love for Nemours:
Et M. de Nemours, lui dit-il, ne l'avez-vous point vu, ou l'avez-vous oublie?
--Je ne l'ai point vu, en effet, repondit-elle; je me trouvais mal, et j'ai envoye une de mes femmes lui faire des excuses.
--Vous ne vous trouviez donc mal que pour lui, reprit M. de Cleves, puisque vous avez vu tout le monde? (446-47)
Here, Cleves implies essentially that "se trouver mal" signifies "aimer d'amour." This is, at any event, the complex and ambiguous way that malady is represented in La Princesse de Cleves. For example, in the lesson on infidelity that Cleves shares with his wife between chapters one and two, Madame de Tournon's loves are revealed through her untimely death, which functions simultaneously as a trigger for the revelation of her passion and, presumably, as the outcome of her too passionate life. Though Valincour complained that this recit was poorly linked to the plot (Lafayette 536-37), modern readers easily see this story of Madame de Tournon's death as both a warning and a proleptic representation of the Princess's struggle against passion.
The two other major deaths depicted in the novel--King Henri Il's and the prince de Cleves's--seem to be associated no less with passion. In the case of Cleves, his passion for his wife combines with jealous despair to do him in. Whereas for the King, characterized from the start as we have seen by his passion, he is wounded fatally in the eye, which is long considered the primary point of transmission for love's disease. Never mind that this wound is historically accurate: it is the business of the historical novel to give new meanings to old facts.
In this category, too, of fiction explaining history, is Madame de Chartres's frightening account of the ravages brought by Diane de Poitiers on the royal family of France. In the middle of the complex scrum for love and power between Diane and the duchesse d'Etampes, we learn of the latter's decision to betray French troops to their mortal Imperial enemies:
Cette duchesse ne jouit pas longtemps du succes de sa trahison. Peu apres, M. le duc d'Orleans mourut a Faremoutiers, d'une espece de maladie contagieuse. Il aimait une des plus belles femmes de la cour, et en etait aime. Je ne vous la nommerai pas, parce qu'elle a vecu depuis avec tant de sagesse, et qu'elle a meme cache avec tant de soin la passion qu'elle avait pour ce prince, qu'elle a merite que l'on conserve sa reputation. (356)
The initial ambiguity of this "espece de maladie contagieuse" seems to be explained both by Madame d'Etampes's love-poisoned treachery and by the sentence that follows: "Il aimait une des plus belles femmes de la cour"--who miraculously escapes the effects of love and, as such, is nameless in (and apparently irrelevant to) the novel, because she lived finally beyond its scope. Love is all around and its transmission is, indeed, highly contagious in the La Princesse de Cleves, so much so that Madame de Chartres's inoculation and the subsequent boosters given in the other "recits intercales" are not enough in the end to protect the Princess.
LE MAL D'AMOUR: A SOCIAL DISEASE?
The easy circulation of this disease hardly needs demonstration. But I would like to seize upon the possibilities of this "epidemiological" principle to show how, as a novelist and an artist, Lafayette extends and gives harmony and resonance to the central metaphor (if le mal d'amour can be called a metaphor) at other levels of the novel. Modern medicine does, indeed, recognize the importance of social dynamics as it tracks and attempts to contain contagious disease. (Hofer, too, has observed that the novel's pathology has "sociocultural," "psychosocial" (141) and "sociopolitical" (142) dimensions.) In particular it seems that this novel lends itself well to a version of what in modern medicine is called "cohort studies." In this instance, the cohort is the court itself, which might be considered the cohort par excellence, at least in etymological terms. The court defines not only a space of proximity for the evolution of disease as well as for select individual life pursuits. Just as importantly, it organizes the relationships of its members through a series of formal and informal exchanges: marriages, balls, tournaments on the one hand and, on the other, the semi-spontaneous formation of coteries, confidences, and intrigues--precisely the "magnificence" and "galanterie" announced in the novel's opening, first seen as the court's greatest virtue, then as the vehicle for its vices and now its ills. We have already seen how the public and, to a degree, official events of court have the effect of leaving the Princess "exposed"--the first marriage ball virtually thrusts her into the arms of Nemours, while later festivities require her continued presence despite her desire for isolation and repos. Even more important are the nearly daily gatherings in the private quarters of the "queens"--especially the bedroom where the Reine Dauphine receives guests. These meetings allow those present to explore (or communicate) love both in the abstract--as with Nemours's question galante as to whether a gentleman should want his lover to be present at a ball which he cannot attend (359-61)--and in concrete specifics--again, the object of Nemours secret desires (377). The hothouse intimacy and literal or figural promiscuity of these exchanges are essential for the propagation of love's malady.
One of the clearest examples of this rampant transmission is found in Nemours's indiscreet communication with the vidame de Chartres after having heard the Princess's astonishing aveu--her courageous but ill-fated attempt to isolate the disease: "Ce prince etait si rempli de sa passion ... qu'il tomba dans une imprudence assez ordinaire qui est de parler en termes generaux de ses sentiments particuliers, et de conter ses propres aventures sous des noms empruntes" (423). Nemours's indiscretion is inevitably aggravated by the vidame's indiscretion which, far from being contained, is passed on to Madame de Martigues, then to the Reine Dauphine and eventually back to the Princess who finds that her most private feelings and confidences have been passed casually from hand to hand, so to speak, around the court. (428-29)
Actual hand-to-hand transmission of another specimen of uncontained passion is found in the crucial episode of the "purloined letter" (Dejean 895) sent by Madame de Themines to the vidame de Chartres. The letter explores succinctly all of the malefic effects of a "passion violente" (396): pain, infidelity, deception, punishment, vengeance (on this, see also Hodgson). In the following passage, for example, Madame de Themines describes some of the many aspects of love's toxic progression: "Je pensais que je ne vous punirais pas assez en rompant avec vous, et que je ne vous donnerais qu'une legere douleur si je cessais de vous aimer lorsque vous ne m'aimiez plus. Je trouvai qu'il fallait que vous m'aimassiezpour sentir le mal de n'etrepoint aime, que j'eprouvais si cruellement" (396; emphasis added). Here, love is weaponized, cultivated specifically to spread pain ("le mal"). But the very materiality of this letter allows the readers (both diagetical and extradiagetical) to follow multiple paths in the uncontrolled transmission of suffering that the letter attempts to describe.
Beyond the particulars, unnamed in the letter itself, Nemours, the Princess, Queen Catherine, the Reine Dauphine, Madame de Martigues and perhaps others might be hurt if the letter were divulged. And of course, like Nemours's account of the aveu, this letter--at once impersonal in its precise form and very direct in its potency--is revealed sooner or later to all. The Reine Dauphine's following summary of the letter's "transmission" is not even complete:
La Reine a entendu parler de la lettre que je vous donnai hier; elle croit que c'est le vidame de Chartres qui l'a laisse tomber: vous savez qu'elle y prend quelque interet. Elle a fait chercher cette lettre; elle l'a fait demander a Chastelart; il a dit qu'il me l'avait donnee: on me l'est venu demander, sur le pretexte que c'etait une jolie lettre, qui donnait de la curiosite a la Reine. Je n'ai ose dire que vous l'aviez; j'ai cru qu'elle s'imaginerait que je vous l'avais mise entre les mains a cause du Vidame votre oncle [...]. (412)
Hofer has commented on the somatization of the feigned illness described in the letter: "Je feignis d'etre malade pour cacher le desordre de mon esprit; mais je le devins en effet, et mon corps ne put supporter une si violente agitation" (396). For Hofer, this is a prime example of the "conversion" of psychological distress into "real illness as a result of the unresolved turmoil" (141). Hofer speaks here of a "chain reaction" but she omits the subsequent links: "Quand je commencai a me porter mieux, je feignis encore d'etre fort mal, afin d'avoir un pretexte de ne vous point voir et de ne vous point ecrire" (396). Because this mal is a true suffering, it is practically useless to distinguish between "real" and "feigned." The chain is, conceivably, endless because it seems ultimately to be circular and survives through and perhaps for the sole purpose of further transmission: the mal prompts her at first not to write but of course she does write--to the vidame de Chartres but also to everyone else in court. (8) Because the letter's particulars are unnamed, practically everyone is exposed to its effects.
From the novel's perspective, however, the primary effects will befall Nemours and the princess, who are both forced and allowed to enact its volatile and contagious substance when the Reine Dauphine orders them to rewrite the letter from memory. This unsigned letter becomes the premise for their only chance of shared, personal intimacy which allows the princess moments of the (apparently) guiltless "plaisir de voir Nemours," moments of shared "gaiete" and the greater than "medicore charme" (414) of passing behind closed doors a night of love (letter writing). The letter and its reconstruction allow us to see how love flows from an undifferentiated and, at least in this sense, impersonal source, like Barthes's Fragments d'un discours amoureux, a combinatorial scheme of expression that through repetition and essentially limitless transmission is infinite and incurable. Compare, in this light, much of the preceding discussion with Barthes's opening description of "Comment est fait ce livre": "Tout est parti de ce principe: qu'il ne fallait pas reduire l'amoureux a un simple sujet symptomal, mais plutot faire entendre ce qu'il y a dans sa voix d'inactuel, c'est-a-dire d'intraitable" (Fragments 7). The lover's voice is not an effective subject of longing but rather an object contaminated by desire. Barthes goes on to say of the lettre d'amour: "La figure vise la dialectique particuliere de la lettre d'amour, a la fois vide (codee) et expressive (chargee de l'envie de signifier le desir)" (187). Like passion itself: "oppose[e] a l'action, ... lorsque quelque corps recoit ou souffre l'action de quelque agent" (Furetiere) external and, at least in this description, anonymous.
Joan Dejean has argued for the "privileges of anonymity" in La Princesse de Cleves, saying that anonymity is the key to her final triumph: her successful navigation of the straits of female authority, through lessons learned in rewriting madame de Themine's letter (899). I am more inclined to agree with Bernadette Hofer who questions this heroic reading of the novel's conclusion and suggests that the Princess's premature death points to the irremediable nature of her suffering (172-74). The purloined letter is pivotal not only in the Princess's sentimental education but even more in the interpretation of Lafayette's toxic fictions of love. The anonymity of love, in its inscriptions and its pathology, is in the end a profound self-alienation.
Barthes, Roland. Fragments d'un discours amoureux. Paris: Seuil, 1977.
Descartes, Rene. OEuvres de Descartes. 11 vols. Ed. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery. Paris: Vrin, 1996.
Dejean, Joan. "Lafayette's Ellipses: The Privileges of Anonymity." PMLA 99.5 (1984): 884-902.
Hodgson, Richard G. "Mise en abyme and the Narrative System of La Princesse de Cleves." Actes de Davis. Ed. Claude Abraham. Paris: Biblio 17, 1988. 55-61.
Hofer, Bernadette. Psychosomatic Disorders in Seventeenth-Century French Literature. Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.
Kuizenga, Donna. Narrative Strategies in La Princesse de Cleves. Lexington: French Forum, 1976.
Lafayette, Madame de. CEuvres completes. Ed. Camille Esmein-Sarrazin. Paris: Gallimard-Pleiade, 2014.
La Rochefoucauld, Francois, duc de. Maximes. Ed. Jacques Truchet. Paris: Classiques Garnier, Bordas, 1992.
Miller, Nancy K. "Emphasis Added: Plots and Plausibility in Women's Fiction." PMLA 96.1 (1981): 36-48.
Viala, Alain and Daryl Lee (trans.). "Les Signes Galants." Yale French Studies 92 (1997): 1129.
--. "Le naturel galant." Nature et culture a lage classique (XVIe-XVIIIe siecles). Ed. Christian Delmas and Francoise Gevrey. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 1997. 61-76.
(1) For example, see Richard Hodgson on mise en abyme in La Princesse de Cleves.
(2) For a more extended discussion of the vocabulary of love, see Donna Kuizenga, Narrative Strategies (117-25).
(3) See also these adjectival forms: amoureux (54 times), galant (9 times), passionne or passionnement (6 times). This accounting reverses the order of preference but is of limited significance, in my opinion, and can be explained by reasons of morphological and stylistic expediency.
(4) Provocatively enough, "amour" and "Nemours" arrive first together. In her well-known reading of La Princesse, "Emphasis Added," Nancy K. Miller observed: "Nemours' love, like his name, is negative and plural: ne/amours" (42).
(5) "Un galant homme n'est autre chose qu'un honnete homme, un peu plus brilliant ou plus enjoue qu'a son ordinaire et qui sait faire en sorte que tout lui sied bien." Le Chevalier de Mere, Les Conversations (1668), cited by Alain Viala, "Le Naturel galant" (65).
(6) Koch's examination of passion steers mostly clear of social and literary questions. Koch focuses the greatest amount of attention not on amour-passion but on the passion of fear which is described in the philosophical terms of theoretical physics, as noted by Furetiere (above). The violent collision of bodies in motion produces, over time, aversion and the passion of fear. This passion, in turn, is the driving force of civil societies to organize in order to soften the percussive violence that is the essence of their natural state. The demonstration of this force as passion, as power, and physics also constitutes the central thrust and unifying principle of Koch's final chapter where the following idea is asserted and frequently restated, e.g.: "That [aesthetic] body situated in society is motivated by the force of contact-touch, which provokes sensibility and passion, and most notably the passion of fear" (288). From a decidedly different angle, Koch's analysis confirms the generally negative view of the passions--only belatedly and tentatively corrected by Descartes's late conversion to the idea of passions as useful.
(7) See how the Princess deals with her own jealous upset caused by the mysterious letter she believes to be addressed to Nemours: "apres cette connaissance, elle n'avait plus rien a craindre d'elle-meme, et qu'elle serait entierement guerie de l'inclination qu'elle avait pour ce prince. Elle ne pensa guere a l'ordre que madame la dauphine lui avait donne de se trouver a son coucher: elle se mit au lit, et feignit de se trouver mal" (398). The cure ("elle serait entierement guerie") leads immediately and curiously to feigned illness. Other uses of false illness by the Princess are found at the end of chapter three (411) and the beginning of chapter four (444).
(8) Joan Dejean ("Lafayette's Ellipses" 887, 895) likens this letter to another "text": her aveu to the prince de Cleves, which circulates anonymously and does indeed return to the Princess as an incredible story.
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|Author:||Bold, Stephen C.|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2017|
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