The Eighteenth-Century French Novel: Techniques of Illusion

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This book deals with the ways in which the French novel of the eighteenth century marks a transition from the long, implausible and often clumsy works of the seventeenth century to the masterpieces of Balzac, Stendhal and Laubert. For her study, Professor Mylne has chosen works by Lesage, Prevost, Marivaux, Crebillon fils, Rousseau, Diderot, Laclos, Restif de la Bretonne and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, and through her consideration of these particular authors she traces the development of the novelists' technique in the representation of life. She discusses, firstly, the theories and aims which conditioned the genre, such as the allegation of a moral purpose and the pretence that the novel is a true story, an attitude which contributed to the widespread popularity of memoir-novels and the epistolary form. Secondly, on the level of technique and structure, the author studies methods of characterisation and plot-construction, effects of style and emotional tone, and descriptive devices such as the use of factual details to increase verisimilitude.