Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*France. Interrupted tales bounce the main characters and readers from place to place throughout France. Settings include towns, inns, farms, roadways, houses, and even lofts and doorsteps. The constantly shifting scenes are so disorienting that even the narrator is not always sure where the characters are.

Like his contemporary French writer Voltaire, Diderot often viewed sexual relationships between men and women as good sources of humor and satire. The novel includes several places which by their nature create humorous situations based on these relationships. The tale of the baker’s wife and her lover, for example, is one in which place is essential to the action. When the local authorities come to arrest the baker, the wife’s lover, not the baker, is with her. Later the lover leaves and is arrested in spite of his protests because “whoever sleeps with the baker’s wife is the baker.”