Love, religion and society in the 18th century French novel

This module offers an overview of some of the greatest prose works in the French language, written in the century which saw the novel come of age as a literary genre.

‘The age of enlightenment’, as the century has been termed, was the period during which development of science, economics and education all over Europe, but above all in France, caused fundamental religious dogma to be called into question.

Leading writers and thinkers investigated the basis for moral behaviour in society in order to find a satisfactory alternative to Christian beliefs. Together with the wide spread of scientific knowledge, the tensions between physical love, nature, art, religion, morality and the politics of a new social order, which was ultimately to end in the French Revolution, find full expression in the literature of the time.

This module studies the nature of this change and the form of commentary represented by the literature and art of the period.