Analysis

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Denis Diderot's Rameau's Nephew (Le Neveu de Rameau, written between 1761 and 1764), is an imagined dialogue between one named "Moi," (not in fact Diderot himself) and the nephew of one "Rameau" (named "lui"). The setting is the Café de la Régence, where the narrator is accustomed to dine. "Lui" has been kicked out by his family for his incorrigibility, and, specifically, his commitment to his ideas of truth. He is now a sycophant, employed in exploiting wealthy people of society. He claims, "In nature all species devour each other, and in society all the classes feed on one another."

The text takes the form of a dialogue, in which "Moi" is an interlocutor, interested in fairly conventional pursuits (like wealth and family) with typical values, and acts as a foil for "Lui," who has an odd and utilitarian worldview. He claims, for example, that getting rich corrupts people, and he prefers to be a cunning knave who extorts wealth.

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