Representing Violence in France, 1760-1820

BookRepresenting Violence in France, 1760-1820

Representing Violence in France, 1760-1820

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2013:10


October 11th, 2013



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Violence was an inescapable part of people’s daily lives in eighteenth-century France. The Revolution in general and the Terror in particular were marked by intense outbursts of political violence, whilst the abuse of wives, children and servants was still rife in the home. But the representation of violence in its myriad forms remains aesthetically troublesome.

Drawing on correspondence, pamphlets, novels and plays, authors analyse the portrayal of violence as a rational act, the basis of (re)written history, an expression of institutional power, and a challenge to morality. Contributions include explorations of:

  • the use of the dream sequence in fiction to comprehend violence;
  • how rhetoric can manipulate violent historical truth as documented by Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France;
  • the political implications of commemorating the massacre at the Tuileries of 10 August 1792;
  • how Sade’s graphic descriptions of violence placed the reader in a morally ambivalent position;
  • the differing responses of individuals subjected to brutal incarceration at Vincennes and the Bastille;
  • the constructive force of violence as a means of creating a sense of self.

‘Most of the essays refract the question of violence through literary genres and authors: the roman noir, émigré literature, sentimental fiction, Revolutionary pamphlets, [along with] a consideration of gambling in fictional life-stories. [They] show how a distinctly literary sensibility permeates our grasp of past violence.’
- French studies

Author Information

After studying at the University of Cambridge, Thomas Wynn completed his DPhil in French at St John’s College, Oxford in 2004. As well as teaching at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, he has also been a post-doctoral fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford. He has published on Sade, cinema and eighteenth-century theatre, as well as contributing to the Complete works of Voltaire.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
List of illustrations8
THOMAS WYNN, Introduction12
I. Violence and the crisis of reason26
JOHN DUNKLEY, Gambling and violence: Loaisel de Tréogate as a neuroscientist? 28
OLIVIER RITZ, Metaphors of popular violence in the revolutionary debate in the wake of Edmund Burke46
STÉPHANIE GENAND, Dreaming the Terror: the other stage of revolutionary violence 60
PIERRE SAINT-AMAND, Gothic explosions: Révéroni Saint- Cyr’s Pauliska ou La Perversité moderne72
II. Violence and the (re)writing of history84
CATRIONA SETH, The ‘dix août’ (10 August 1792) in literary texts 86
MICHE LE VALLENTHINI, Violence in history and the rise of the historical novel: the case of the marquis de Sade104
YANN ROBERT, The everlasting trials of Jean Calas: justice, theatre and trauma in the early years of the Revolution114
PIERRE FRANTZ, Violence in the theatre of the Revolution132
III. Violence and institutions148
THOMAS WYNN, Violence, vulnerability and subjectivity in Sade150
ODILE JAFFRÉ-COOK, The Bastille or the ‘Enfer de Dutailli de Saint-Pierre’ 172
OURIDA MOSTEFAI, Violence, terrorism and the legacy of the Enlightenment: debates around Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Revolution188
IV. Violence and morality200
MALCOLM COOK, Violence in the work of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre202
REBECCA SOPCHIK, Violence and the monster: the Private lives of the duc d’Orléans 214
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE ABRAMOVICI, ‘Avec une telle violence que...’: Sade’s use of the term violence 232
WILL MCMORRAN, The sound of violence: listening to rape in Sade240
MICHEL DELON, Violence in the novels of Charlotte [de] Bournon-Malarme262