Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon Criticism - Essay

Clifton Cherpack (essay date 1962)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Ways of Love," in An Essay on Crébillon fils, Duke University Press, 1962, pp. 15–33.

[In the essay below, Cherpack studies the views on love and sex found in Crébillon's works.]

Voilà, repliqua-t-il, une distinction que je n'entends pas; quelle valeur attachez-vous actuellement au mot d'aimer? Celle qu'il a, repartit-elle, je ne lui en connais qu'une…. (III)

For Crébillon's characters, this is not a very satisfactory answer to an absorbing question. What is love?

Je ne connais point, comme vous savez, ce que l'on nomme amour, puisqu'enfin on a décidé...

(The entire section is 6555 words.)

Rayner Heppenstall (essay date 1963)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: An introduction to The Wayward Head and Heart by Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon, translated by Barbara Bray, 1963. Reprint by Greenwood Press, Inc., 1978, pp. vii–xiv.

[Heppenstall was an English novelist, critic, and autobiographer who wrote extensively of his experiences with such literary figures as George Orwell and Dylan Thomas. In the following excerpt from an essay first published in 1963, he gives an overview of Crébillon's works.]

In the course of our general reading we somehow contrive to pick up the name of Crébillon fils. It may be from Antic Hay, or it may be from the letters of Horace Walpole. Claude-Prosper Jolyot de...

(The entire section is 2041 words.)

Vivienne Mylne (essay date 1965)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Crébillon: Innovations in Points of View," in The Eighteenth-Century French Novel: Techniques of Illusion, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp. 125–43.

[In the following essay, first published in 1965, Mylne assesses Crébillon's treatment of the memoir-novel, particularly Les Egarements.]

It was after the memoir-novel had become established as the predominant form of French fiction that a fresh form, the letter-novel, came into vogue in the mid-eighteenth century. Crébillon fils is an exception to this general pattern. His first novel was the Letters de la Marquise de M*** au Comte de R***, published in 1732, and it was not...

(The entire section is 7207 words.)

P. L. M. Fein (essay date 1972)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Crébillon fils, Mirror of His Society," in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. LXXX–VIII, 1972, pp. 485–91.

[Here, Fein contends that the actions of Crébillon's characters reflect their own desires, others' desires, and the desires of society.]

The mirror, together with the mask, is one of the chief symbols of 18th century society. As Gaston Bachelard has said, 'les miroirs sont des objects trop civilisés, trop maniables, trop géométriques, ils sont avec trop d'évidence des outils de rêve pour s'adapter d'eux-mêmes à la vie onirique'. So in reality the mirror creates a dream-world. Crébillon makes use of the dream itself as a...

(The entire section is 2594 words.)

Thomas R. Vessely (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Innocence and Impotence: The Scenario of Initiation in L'Ecumoire and in the Literary Fairy Tale," in Eighteenth Century Life, Vol. VII, October, 1981, pp. 71–85.

[In the essay below, Vessely focuses on the sexuality of Tanzaï in Crébillon's French literary fairy tale L'Ecumoire.]

The overriding literary project of Crébillon fils was to explore "The Ways of Love," and particularly, according to Clifton Cherpack [in his An Essay on Crébillon 'fils', 1962], the ways in which love shapes the social relations between the sexes. Crébillon's premise, best illustrated by Versac's famous "Traité de morale" in Les...

(The entire section is 5994 words.)

Thomas M. Kavanagh (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Moment's Notice: Crébillon's Game of Libertinage," in Enlightenment and the Shadows of Chance: The Novel and the Culture of Gambling in Eighteenth-Century France, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, pp. 198–228.

[In the following excerpt, Kavanagh examines the role of fate in Crébillon's writings, observing that his novels "acknowledge a limit to human power as it confronts the reality of chance."]

There is little the characters in Crébillon fils's novels would rather do than gamble. Most of their bets turn, of course, on the feminine virtue and masculine honor staked or bluffed as they maneuver each other toward an alcove, a sofa,...

(The entire section is 7360 words.)