Enfilade

New Book | The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France

Posted in books by Editor on February 14, 2014

From Abbeville:

Michel Delon, ed., with a foreword by Marilyn Yalom, The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France (New York: Abbeville, 2013), 496 pages, ISBN: 978-0789211477, $150.

9780789211477“Delon’s anthology… display[s] the dazzling breadth and depth of the 18th-century obsession with pleasures of the flesh. Certainly The Libertine is as lavish—with its sumptuous illustrations of luscious Rococo nudes and other toothsome lovelies—as an 18th-century bal masqué. But Delon’s analogy understates the dizzying diversity of the ball’s invitees. Priapic peasants, depraved duchesses, masked miscreants, sexy sylphs, coy mistresses, foot fetishists, human sofas (!) and a surprising abundance of naughty nuns: These raunchy revelers engage in one decadent mating dance after another, tirelessly chasing ‘it’, and gamely explaining why it matters.” —The New York Times

“That which both sexes then called ‘love’ was a kind of commerce that they entered into, often without inclination, where convenience was always preferred to sympathy, interest to pleasure, and vice to feeling.” Thus did one novelist describe the spirit that pervaded the twilight years of the Ancien Régime, the heyday of the libertine. Today this word typically evokes the excesses of a Sade or the cruel manipulations of Dangerous Liaisons, but the game of love, as the jaded French aristocracy played it, was most often characterized by a refinement of speech and manner, a taste for nuance over forthright assertion that finds its counterpart in the paintings of Fragonard and the operas of Mozart. The amours of the libertine also colored the intellectual life of the time, figuring into the great debates about natural instinct versus social institutions, and the proper limits of personal freedom.

This sumptuous volume re-creates the milieu of the libertine in all its lively decadence, bringing together more than eighty brief selections from eighteenth-century French literature, grouped into eight broad themes—including tales of seduction, fantasies of exotic lands, and the discoveries of youth—and introduced by an eminent French scholar. These pieces, which encompass fiction, drama, verse, essays, and letters, are the work of nearly sixty writers, some familiar to Anglophone readers—such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and yes, the Marquis de Sade—and some much less so; indeed, many of the selections are hitherto untranslated. Each excerpt is accompanied by splendid reproductions of period artworks, many rarely seen, by Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, and numerous others, that echo and heighten the mood of the texts.

Michel Delon, professor of French literature at the Sorbonne, is the author of several studies of the eighteenth-century libertine. He has edited the works of Diderot and Sade for the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, as well as Routledge’s Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment.

Marilyn Yalom is a former professor of French and presently a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. In 1991 she was decorated as an Officier des Palmes Académiques by the French Government. She is the author of widely acclaimed books such as Blood Sisters: The French Revolution in Women’s Memory (1993), A History of the Breast (1997), A History of the Wife (1997), and How the French Invented Love: 900 Years of Passion and Romance (2012). She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, the psychiatrist and author Irvin D. Yalom.

Call for Papers | Perversions of Paper

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on February 14, 2014

While it’s a symposium especially geared toward book studies, it seems like some of you working on prints would have exciting examples of “papery aberrations.” -CH

Perversions of Paper
Birkbeck Material Texts Network and the Archive Futures Network
Keynes Library, Birkbeck College, University of London, 28 June 2014

Proposals due by 30 March 2014

wrapped-chairPerversions of Paper is a one-day symposium investigating the outer limits of our interactions with books and with paper. It considers unorthodox engagements with texts, from cherishing or hoarding them to mutilating and desecrating them, from wearing them to chewing them, and from inhaling their scent to erasing their content.

‘Perversion’ may apply to deviations from normal usage but also to our psychological investments in paper. To talk of having a fetish for books is common, but is there more to this than merely well-worn cliché? What part do books and other written artefacts play in our imaginary and psychic lives, and what complex emotional attachments do we develop towards them? Also, how might literary studies or cultural history register these impulses and acts; what kind of methodologies are appropriate?

This symposium invites reflections on perverse uses of—and relationships with—paper and parchment. We welcome proposals from a range of historical periods and disciplinary backgrounds, and from postgraduate students, as well as from more established academics. Contributors are invited to consider bookish and papery aberrations from any number of angles, including but not limited to: (more…)