The Maxims in Histoire de Madame de Luz
In attempting an analysis of the maxims in Duclos’ first novel, Histoire de Madame de Luz, there clearly are a number of possible and valid approaches. One could study the themes of these maxims and then propose conclusions as to Duclos’ world-view. One could also undertake a character and plot investigation based on the maxims. Neither of these explorations could adequately consider the intriguing form mixture of maxim and novel which has been proposed as central to the aims of this study. Rather, one aspect of the narration of the novel, that of perspective, has been selected as the focal point and organizing center of this chapter. Several general areas of narration will be discussed, and then an intensive analysis of the varying perspectives, or points of view of the maxims, will be attempted. It is felt that this technique will incorporate a maxim-centered consideration of the intricate relationship of the maxims and the novel, and will best allow us to approach comprehensively the most essential questions of subject and construction, yielding conclusions about the aesthetic and ethical workings of the maxims and of the novel.
KeywordsEthical Approach Social Scene Virtuous Life World Approach Virtuous Woman
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- 1.See Appendix A for a listing and numbering of the maxims of this novel. The maxims in the Lettre à l’auteur de Madame de Luz are not discussed in this chapter, since they clearly fall outside the fictional unit of the novel. They have been included in the Appendix for reference, and are recommended to the reader’s attention for their cogent commentary on le goût, and on the question of vraisemblance in the novel.Google Scholar
- 2.One might note that this episode composes the first of two parts of the novel, and indeed more than half its length.Google Scholar
- 3.For a discussion of a similar effect of the court, the reader is referred to an article by Serge Doubrovsky, “La Princesse de Clèves: Une interprétation existentielle,” in La Table Ronde, CXXXVIII (June, 1959), pp. 36-51.Google Scholar
- 4.This maxim, number 28. was quoted fully on page 28.Google Scholar
- 5.The reader’s attention is directed to page 164 of our edition of Duclos, a page interesting for the many levels of duplicity found there.Google Scholar
- 6.See the studies of the eighteenth century French novel by Georges May and Vivienne Mylne.Google Scholar