Le Bizarre and Le Decousu in the Novels and Theoretical Works of Denis Diderot: How the Idea of Marginality Originated in Eighteenth-century France (Hardback)Barbara Lise Abrams (author)
Hardback 164 Pages / Published: 01/08/2009
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This book examines the background of our modern concept of marginality by focusing on Diderot's materialist philosophy and his search for the origins of genius, and locating it within the French Enlightenment quest for truth. Diderot's treatment of marginality can be separated into three main categories: 'The forcibly marginalized' (La marginalite subie). The character of Suzanne Simonin of La Religieuse is an example of forcible marginalization from a given milieu; 'Self-imposed marginalization' (La marginalite choisi). Rameau's nephew, an example of self-imposed marginality, alienates himself from others as well as others from himself. Le Neveu de Rameau clearly illustrates Diderot's special interest in the marginality of unusual or bizarre types; and, the final category includes those who have been marginalized due to biological defects or more precisely, those who have been deemed separate by 'biological-predeterminism'. La marginalite biologique: The Mother Superior of Arpajon is a lesbian who is portrayed as unbalanced and her physical appearance separates her from the norm. With her character depiction, Diderot offers an example of biologically or physically imposed marginalization and its psycho-social consequences. Diderot demonstrates the links between the marginalized genius and the pursuit of truth. In the "Interpretation de la nature", Diderot combines art and science in the quest for truth. In "Le Reve de D'Alembert" Bizarre and decousu are key terms used in the elaboration of Diderot's search for ultimate verity. The definition of genius is a central problematic for Diderot. The genius is always marginal. As seen through Diderot's work, a genius is someone capable of seeing through the hidden unity of a given process and then communicating that unity in a creative and cogent manner. "Enlightened insanity" is a state of being for the marginalized genius. The genius in pursuit of truth is always unraveling, or in a state of 'unravelment'. It is none other than the genius who comes closest to truth while in the process of 'unravelment.'
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
Number of pages: 164
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