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Contents:


  1. Audio Editions
  2. From ‘My Struggle’ to ‘My Doctrine’
  3. The Origins of the French Revolution – Popular Misery, Social Ambition, or Philosophical Ideas?
  4. A Modernist Fiction
  5. Ambition and Desire

French nouvelles galantes, nouvelles historiques and histoires were promptly translated into English and the number of those translations, as well as the promptitude with which so many of the titles were translated, suggests that they were very avidly read. A score of authors, many of whose names are today largely unfamiliar even to scholars of early modern fiction, were for decades very popular with English readers.

Audio Editions

As has long been recognised, and most significantly since the pioneering work of Ros Ballaster, English women writers drew on this fiction and they were no doubt influenced in doing so by the prominence within that corpus of a considerable number of women writers. This work encourages us to think about the lexicon being deployed by authors to confer meaning on experience as both individual and social. In this key area of scholarship on the historical understanding of the self, we are finally getting around to thinking about how novels might have been providing readers with conceptual tools, turns of phrase and a lexicon that they would assimilate and draw on in accessing and making sense of their own inner experience and their experience of the social world.

The English writers, I suggest, would appropriate those ideas and that language and use them creatively in their own narrativisations of a self perceiving and negotiating a social world. This is to suggest that French thought had developed a rich and highly textured language of the self, and that key concepts and vocabularies of that language circulated widely in English culture both via French fiction and the amatory fiction which drew on its resources and that, in ways I want to examine, this fiction participated in the discursive production of identity in early modern period.

The first of these themes, the self of self-interest enjoyed a long history of theorisation in France. The romances notably valorised love, but they also valorised deeds of glory. It is important to remember that the claims of love and ambition could enter into opposition, but that they could also be conceived and figured as complementary and even interdependent.

In the later decades of the century, with the rise of Cartesian Augustinian thought, the idealisation of love as passion, consecrated throughout a long literary and philosophical tradition, underwent decisive revision. Cartesian rationalism had reaffirmed the dualism — previously attenuated in writings drawing on Platonic, Plotinian or Thomist sources — of passion and reason. In the space of fiction, and no doubt at least partially due to the weight of the literary tradition idealising the passion of love, the capacity to experience passion was itself figured, despite its inconveniences, as the distinguishing characteristic of a particular elite.

Consequently, the rise of the new philosophy was linked to an ancient tradition for which the obscurities of knowledge of oneself were an essential theme. From the confluence of these discourses, French writers of the last three decades of the seventeenth century drew on and developed a highly elaborate conceptual and lexical storehouse which lent itself admirably to the task of giving expression to individual and social experience. The French provenance of these thematic motifs becomes most evident when one considers the way in which they interact one with the other in the narrative exploration of the adventures of a small cast of characters negotiating the problems of their interpersonal relations but also their relation to their social environment.

This might be considered a somewhat tendentious choice of text, as critics have long acknowledged the influence on Haywood of French novels. He discovers love as passion and, at the same time, the erroneousness of his former thinking.


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The third and final section completes the analysis. From her reading of the short novels of the last three decades of the seventeenth century, Haywood is highly conscious of the complex axiological valence of self-love or ambition. When in the first part of Love in Excess she stages the opposition between the claims of ambition and those of love, she focuses on the pursuit of self-interest as an important explanatory concept for understanding the antagonistic relations between the sexes.

It should not be forgotten however that the full title of this text was Reflections on the Various Effects of Love, according to the contrary Dispositions of the Persons on whom it operates. The staging of this conflict makes plain the contradictions of the discourse by simultaneously lamenting and valorising the force of uncontrollable passion. In her treatment of this familiar theme, Haywood focuses, as many of her French precursors had done, on the different subject positions which, in ways that were dependent on circumstances, women and men could occupy.

Except that of course Haywood is simply proving the truth of the postulates of her analytic framework of interpretation of human behaviour. In the third and extended trial scene, the focus shifts from the quandaries of the male character to the same quandaries as encountered by the female character. The longest disquisition on the irresistible powers of passion is voiced this time by the narrator and with a view to creating compassion for the difficulties of the trial as faced by Melliora.

Has thou no charms — Or have not I a heart?

From ‘My Struggle’ to ‘My Doctrine’

This empire of the passions is a reality of the human condition which means that it applies not just to men who often use it as an excuse for unscrupulous behaviour but also to women. As critics and readers have realised, it is difficult to extract much morally-uplifting instruction from these fictions because the characters invariably succumb, regardless of whatever attempts they might make to resist. But the instructive value of these fictions had been construed very differently in France.

In France, the enquiry into the relation between prose fiction and the secret recesses of the soul, had arrived at some very different conclusions. Of all the human sciences, the science of man is the most worthy of man. It requires great expertise to penetrate to the bottom of that abyss, to avoid getting lost among so many small differences, to render vividly such imperceptible subjects, and to explain things which, because of the little knowledge we have had of them up till now, still remain without words to designate them.

In the right hands, that of the talented writer, prose can actually communicate to the reader an idea of modifications of the soul or sentiments despite the fact that the language does not possess words for them. These ideas are eminently pertinent to understanding Haywood as a writer of prose fiction.

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The Origins of the French Revolution – Popular Misery, Social Ambition, or Philosophical Ideas?

She liked to preface her novels with dithyrambic poems celebrating her powers of language and the firing force of her evocations of passion. The new short fiction was offering readers an experience that was in many ways utterly new. The long romances had remained attached to the spoken word. The reader accessed the thoughts and feelings of the characters by listening in as such to the conversations of the various devisants. The new fiction struggled to render in words and communicate to readers the turbulent inner world of the heart and minds of its characters, and the challenge was so significant that we find frequent reminders of the difficulty, and even the impossibility, of achieving that end.

A lovers fancy! Can reach the exalted soaring of a lovers meaning. To approach this fiction from this perspective is to destabilise any straightforward distinction between representation and the subject. Marivaux wanted to suggest that the great writers should be recognised for the importance of their role as scientists, scientists of the human soul. In urging the value of that science, he emphasised its fundamental necessity for every social being. Let us imagine a science of such immediate necessity that absolutely every man, let him be who he will, must have some mastery of it and very promptly also, failing which he cannot be admitted to that competition of interests, relations, and reciprocal needs which link us one with another.

In July , Verne left Nantes again for Paris, where his father intended him to finish law studies and take up law as a profession. Verne arrived in Paris during a time of political upheaval: the French Revolution of In February, Louis Philippe I had been overthrown and had fled; on 24 February, a provisional government of the French Second Republic took power, but political demonstrations continued, and social tension remained. In a letter to his family, Verne described the bombarded state of the city after the recent June Days uprising but assured them that the anniversary of Bastille Day had gone by without any significant conflict.

Verne used his family connections to make an entrance into Paris society. Verne later recalled: "I was greatly under the influence of Victor Hugo , indeed, very excited by reading and re-reading his works. At that time I could have recited by heart whole pages of Notre Dame de Paris , but it was his dramatic work that most influenced me.

During this period, Verne's letters to his parents primarily focused on expenses and on a suddenly appearing series of violent stomach cramps , [35] the first of many he would suffer from during his life. Modern scholars have hypothesized that he suffered from colitis ; [35] Verne believed the illness to have been inherited from his mother's side.

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These attacks, rather than being psychosomatic , were due to an inflammation in the middle ear , though this cause remained unknown to Verne during his life. In the same year, Verne was required to enlist in the French military , but the sortition process spared him, to his great relief. He wrote to his father: "You should already know, dear papa, what I think of the military life, and of these domestic servants in livery. Though writing profusely and frequenting the salons, Verne diligently pursued his law studies and graduated with a licence en droit in January Thanks to his visits to salons, Verne came into contact in with Alexandre Dumas through the mutual acquaintance of a celebrated chirologist of the time, the Chevalier d'Arpentigny.

Verne, with his delight in diligent research, especially in geography, was a natural for the job. The latter story, with its combination of adventurous narrative, travel themes, and detailed historical research, would later be described by Verne as "the first indication of the line of novel that I was destined to follow". Seveste offered Verne the job of secretary of the theatre, with little or no salary attached. For some time, Verne's father pressed him to abandon his writing and begin a business as a lawyer.

However, Verne argued in his letters that he could only find success in literature. It's because I know who I am that I realize what I can be one day. It was in this period that Verne met the illustrious geographer and explorer Jacques Arago , who continued to travel extensively despite his blindness he had lost his sight completely in The two men became good friends, and Arago's innovative and witty accounts of his travels led Verne toward a newly developing genre of literature: that of travel writing.

Hoffmann -like fantasy featuring a sharp condemnation of scientific hubris and ambition, [51] followed soon afterward by " A Winter Amid the Ice ", a polar adventure story whose themes closely anticipated many of Verne's novels. He is said to have discussed the project with the elder Alexandre Dumas, who had tried something similar with an unfinished novel, Isaac Laquedem , and who enthusiastically encouraged Verne's project.

Verne, invited to stay with the bride's family, took to them warmly, befriending the entire household and finding himself increasingly attracted to the bride's sister, Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow aged 26 with two young children. With his financial situation finally looking promising, Verne won the favor of Morel and her family, and the couple were married on 10 January In July , Verne and Aristide Hignard seized an opportunity offered by Hignard's brother: a sea voyage, at no charge, from Bordeaux to Liverpool and Scotland.

The journey, Verne's first trip outside France, deeply impressed him, and upon his return to Paris he fictionalized his recollections to form the backbone of a semi-autobiographical novel, Backwards to Britain written in the autumn and winter of — and not published until Meanwhile, Verne continued work on the idea of a Roman de la Science , which he developed in a rough draft inspired, according to his recollections, by his "love for maps and the great explorers of the world".

It took shape as a story of travel across Africa and would eventually become his first published novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon. Verne made the proposed revisions within two weeks and returned to Hetzel with the final draft, now titled Five Weeks in a Balloon. Verne, finding both a steady salary and a sure outlet for writing at last, accepted immediately. When The Adventures of Captain Hatteras was published in book form in , Hetzel publicly announced his literary and educational ambitions for Verne's novels by saying in a preface that Verne's works would form a novel sequence called the Voyages extraordinaires Extraordinary Voyages or Extraordinary Journeys , and that Verne's aim was "to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format that is his own, the history of the universe".

It is said that there can't be any style in a novel of adventure, but it isn't true. But the Earth is very large, and life is very short! In order to leave a completed work behind, one would need to live to be at least years old! Hetzel influenced many of Verne's novels directly, especially in the first few years of their collaboration, for Verne was initially so happy to find a publisher that he agreed to almost all of the changes Hetzel suggested.

A Modernist Fiction

For example, when Hetzel disapproved of the original climax of Captain Hatteras , including the death of the title character, Verne wrote an entirely new conclusion in which Hatteras survived. The relationship between publisher and writer changed significantly around when Verne and Hetzel were brought into conflict over the manuscript for Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Verne had initially conceived of the submariner Captain Nemo as a Polish scientist whose acts of vengeance were directed against the Russians who had killed his family during the January uprising.

Hetzel, not wanting to alienate the lucrative Russian market for Verne's books, demanded that Nemo be made an enemy of the slave trade , a situation that would make him an unambiguous hero. Verne, after fighting vehemently against the change, finally invented a compromise in which Nemo's past is left mysterious. After this disagreement, Verne became notably cooler in his dealings with Hetzel, taking suggestions into consideration but often rejecting them outright. From that point, Verne published two or more volumes a year.

Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours and Michel Strogoff , which he wrote with Adolphe d'Ennery. His brother Paul contributed to 40th French climbing of the Mont-Blanc and a collection of short stories — Doctor Ox — in Verne became wealthy and famous.

Meanwhile, Michel Verne married an actress against his father's wishes, had two children by an underage mistress and buried himself in debts. Though he was raised Catholic, Verne became a deist in his later years, from about onward. On 9 March , as Verne was coming home, his twenty-six-year-old nephew, Gaston, shot at him twice with a pistol. The first bullet missed, but the second one entered Verne's left leg, giving him a permanent limp that could not be overcome. This incident was hushed up in the media, but Gaston spent the rest of his life in a mental asylum.


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After the death of both his mother and Hetzel, Jules Verne began publishing darker works. In , Verne entered politics and was elected town councilor of Amiens , where he championed several improvements and served for fifteen years. The Voyages extraordinaires series continued for several years afterwards at the same rate of two volumes a year.

In , Verne's great-grandson discovered his ancestor's as yet unpublished novel Paris in the Twentieth Century which was subsequently published in Verne's largest body of work is the Voyages extraordinaires series, which includes all of his novels except for the two rejected manuscripts Paris in the Twentieth Century and Backwards to Britain published posthumously in and , respectively and for projects left unfinished at his death many of which would be posthumously adapted or rewritten for publication by his son Michel.

However, Verne's growing popularity among readers and playgoers due especially to the highly successful stage version of Around the World in Eighty Days led to a gradual change in his literary reputation. As the novels and stage productions continued to sell, many contemporary critics felt that Verne's status as a commercially popular author meant he could only be seen as a mere genre-based storyteller, rather than a serious author worthy of academic study.

However, the decades after Verne's death also saw the rise in France of the "Jules Verne cult", a steadily growing group of scholars and young writers who took Verne's works seriously as literature and willingly noted his influence on their own pioneering works. Their praise and analyses, emphasizing Verne's stylistic innovations and enduring literary themes, proved highly influential for literary studies to come.

In the s and s, thanks in large part to a sustained wave of serious literary study from well-known French scholars and writers, Verne's reputation skyrocketed in France.

Ambition and Desire

Since these events, Verne has been consistently recognized in Europe as a legitimate member of the French literary canon, with academic studies and new publications steadily continuing. Verne's reputation in English-speaking countries has been considerably slower in changing. Wells than as a topic of literary study in his own right. This narrow view of Verne has undoubtedly been influenced by the poor-quality English translations and very loosely adapted Hollywood film versions through which most American and British readers have discovered Verne.

These early English-language translations have been widely criticized for their extensive textual omissions, errors, and alterations, and are not considered adequate representations of Verne's actual novels. It's a bizarre situation for a world-famous writer to be in. Indeed, I can't think of a major writer who has been so poorly served by translation.