Chapter

“A Fallacious and Always Perilous Metaphysic”: The Sadean Critique of Sentiment and the Neo-lucretian Novel

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/9780823226962.003.0007
“A Fallacious and Always Perilous Metaphysic”: The Sadean Critique of Sentiment and the Neo-lucretian Novel

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The basic aim of Sade's materialist arguments—“to ring-fence language to such an extent that it carries its own guards”—and his systematic deployment of literary language to achieve this aim seem from this perspective to entail a thorough, self-conscious violation of the norms upheld in and by narrative convention. Literature ultimately becomes indentured to philosophy and its more noble purposes. Yet the marginalization of specifically literary questions (around genre, for instance) in the evaluation of Sade's contributions to eighteenth-century intellectual history partially obscures the ways in which Sadean materialism involves a detailed and critical response to the Enlightenment philosophical corpus upon which it draws.

Keywords: Sade; Saden materialism; Enlightenment; neo-Lucretian novel; intellectual history

Chapter.  15031 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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