Chapter

“I Resist It No Longer”: <i>Thérèse Philosophe</i> and the Compulsions of Enlightened Literary Materialism

Natania Meeker

in Voluptuous Philosophy

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780823226962
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240944 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823226962.003.0005
“I Resist It No Longer”: Thérèse Philosophe and the Compulsions of Enlightened Literary Materialism

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The philosophical Thérèse, eponymous heroine of the novel commonly attributed to the marquis d'Argens, brings to vivid life the joys of materialist doctrine as an incitement to erotic expression. She has accordingly come to function, in modern criticism, as a feminine counterpart to machine-man—his ideal companion in the voluptuous delights to be derived from the practice of a rigorous materialism. Like La Mettrie's creation, she comes into being at the juncture of philosophy and literary figure. Her pleasures, too, appear to serve a proselytic purpose. A success in its day, the novel's cheerful insistence on the naturalness of erotic desire has continued to strike contemporary scholars as both enlightened and forward-looking.

Keywords: Thérèse philosophe; marquis d'Argens; philosophy; literary figure; erotic desire

Chapter.  13048 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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