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“Qu’est-ce que c’est que l’amour?” Curiosité, amour et monstruosité chez Stendhal

Authors
  • Van Neste, Steffie1
  • 1 Universiteit Gent, Vakgroep Letterkunde, Afdeling FRANS, Blandijnberg 2, Ghent, 9000, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Neophilologus
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Aug 10, 2017
Volume
101
Issue
4
Pages
513–522
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11061-017-9533-9
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

“What is love?” (Lamiel, suivi de Armance, Hachette, Paris, 1965, 90) Stendhal’s characters wonder. In their quest to understand love, they encounter a hostile society. In response, they return to the self: instead of accepting the authority of tradition, they rely on their own observations and experiences. Stendhal, who defends intellectual equality, praises this concept of curiosity. Empirical curiosity is a response to a patriarchal mindset, to a mindset that clearly obstructs the cultivation of the self. In that regard, curiosity appears to be a subversive weapon, allowing the characters to deconstruct conventional roles. At the same time, this new form of curiosity is dangerous. As empirical curiosity escapes any kind of rules, it knowns no boundaries: the curiosity of the subject is unbridled, reckless, and savage. It is even so destructive that it threatens the integrity of the subject, that it turns the curious into a monster. In Lamiel and La Chartreuse de Parme, Stendhal reflects upon this paradox. He proposes three medicines to reckless curiosity: organization, concentration and reflection.

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