The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France

Overview


A delightfully illustrated literary anthology that explores the fantasies, seductions, and intrigues of the eighteenth-century French lover

This sumptuous volume presents more than eighty selections from eighteenth-century French literature, each concerning some facet of the game of love as practiced by the libertine, or the freethinking aristocratic hedonist, a type that flourished—not least in literature—in the declining years of the Ancien Régime. These pieces, which include...

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Overview


A delightfully illustrated literary anthology that explores the fantasies, seductions, and intrigues of the eighteenth-century French lover

This sumptuous volume presents more than eighty selections from eighteenth-century French literature, each concerning some facet of the game of love as practiced by the libertine, or the freethinking aristocratic hedonist, a type that flourished—not least in literature—in the declining years of the Ancien Régime. These pieces, which include fiction, drama, verse, essays, and letters, are the work of some sixty writers, both familiar—such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and, of course, the Marquis de Sade—and lesser-known. Each selection is illustrated by well-chosen period artworks, many rarely seen, by Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, and numerous others.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

"Highly recommended for sophisticated readers, art historians, and Francophiles."
Library Journal

"The most seductive book published this year. A boudoir coffee-table book that will put your guests in the proper frame of mind."
Playboy

"Prepare to be seduced by The Libertine, a swoon-worthy tome that celebrates the French practice of amour. A parade of frolicking lovers gorgeously reproduced."
Newsday, holiday gift guide selection

Library Journal
11/01/2013
In 18th-century France, the term libertine emerged to describe a lifestyle characterized by the pursuit of happiness and pleasure in all its forms. The period that created the concept of political freedom also celebrated personal liberation from traditional religious mores, a trend reflected in the literature and material culture of the time. Editor Delon (French literature, Paris-Sorbonne Univ.; editor, Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment) has assembled more than 80 brief selections that document the period's obsession with sexual gratification and erotic love. The collection includes writings by authors known (e.g., Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau) and unknown (e.g., Robert Challes), as well as certain pieces that have never before been translated into English. Titles such as "The Opportunities of a Night" and "The Autobiography of Casanova" hint at the overall contents. Organized by themes including seduction, flirtation, the boudoir, and the lure of the exotic, the writings are accompanied by illustrations of paintings, prints, and objects of the era. Readers will recognize why the word pornographe was itself coined in these years. Commentary by Delon as well as by Stanford scholar Marilyn Yalom (How the French Invented Love) places the materials in context and explores their political and cultural meaning. VERDICT Highly recommended for sophisticated readers, art historians, and Francophiles.—Marie M. Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789211477
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 470,233
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 12.50 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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