Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Clarens. Fictional estate of Monsieur de Wolmar, located in Switzerland. Clarens is a rational utopia based on Monsieur de Wolmar’s philosophical ideas. It is isolated and has no political or social connections to any exterior groups or institutions. Wolmar leads the little community assembled there with benevolent paternal authority. Life at Clarens is the ideal life admired by the economically ordered middle class. Order and reasonableness are the bases for all activity and for relationships between people. Clarens is imbued with happiness, order, and peace based on devotion to virtue. The Julie whom the reader meets at Clarens is a different Julie than the passionate young woman of the early parts of the novel. She is a model of virtue and marital fidelity. Julie de Wolmar, wife and mother, is the center of life at Clarens, where there are no disquieting thoughts or happenings. Reason and religion exist in harmony in the little community. Although Wolmar is not a believer, he respects and encourages religious devotion.

Clarens is also a place for healing. It is the scene of Wolmar’s great experiment. In this idyllic setting, where reason and virtue reign supreme, Saint-Preux is to be cured of his passion. The husband, the wife, and the lover are to live in harmony founded on virtue. Reason is to prevail and devotion to virtue is to be the guide. However, Saint-Preux’s presence changes Clarens. Clarens is little by...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Arico, Santo L. Rousseau’s Art of Persuasion in “La Nouvelle Héloïse.” Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1994. A study of the novel based upon its rhetorical devices.

Babbitt, Irving. Rousseau and Romanticism. New York: Meridian, 1955. This famous attack on Romantic art and attitudes regards Rousseau as their originator.

Ellis, M. B. “Julie: Ou, La Nouvelle Héloïse”: A Synthesis of Rousseau’s Thought (1749-1759). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1949. Compares themes in the novel with ideas appearing in other writings by Rousseau.

Jones, James F., Jr. “La Nouvelle Héloïse”: Rousseau and Utopia. Geneva, Switzerland: Droz, 1977. Concerned primarily with political implications of the novel; interesting for its Swiss perspective.

Miller, Ronald D. The Beautiful Soul: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Idealism as Exemplified by Rousseau’s “La Nouvelle Héloïse” and Goethe’s “Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers.” Harrogate: Duchy Press, 1981. Compares two famous European novels of the eighteenth century with aspects of a common theme.

Pickering, Samuel, Jr. The Moral Tradition in English Fiction, 1785-1850. Hanover, N.H.: Published for Dartmouth College by the University Press of New England, 1976. Documents the opposition to Rousseau and his novel in England.

Stewart, Philip. Half-Told Tales: Dilemmas of Meaning in Three French Novels. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages, 1987. In English, but primarily for students of French literature.