Abstract

This article uses the secondary character of Cécile Volanges to explore the role of love in the Liaisons dangereuses (1782). A reading of Cécile based on eighteenth-century theories of female physiology reveals that Merteuil's frustration with and ultimate misreading of her young victim stems from her inability to understand that romantic love, whatever its pitfalls, is the ultimate expression of human civilization in the Laclosian universe, a message expressed most clearly in Laclos's narrative of the coming-to-sexuality of a young girl in the state of nature in Des Femmes et de leur éducation (1783).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 1-19
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-07
Open Access
No
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