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Two French Libertine Novels

The Story of Madame de Luz
and
The Confessions of the Comte de ***

By Charles Pinot-Duclos

Translated and with an introduction by
Douglas Parmée

LC 2003058327
2 volumes in 1
ISBN-10: 0-404-63546-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-63546-6
Clothbound $64.50

AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 46


“Douglas Parmée’s new translation of these excellent tales combines accuracy with elegance, and succeeds well in preserving the playful tone of the original texts while being readily accessible to the modern reader. Parmée prefaces his translations with an informative and entertaining introduction.”
—John Phillips, Modern Language Review

“Parmée, who has translated many authors, including Laclos, Flaubert, and Zola, offers a highly readable and accurate version of the two novels that seems destined for the general public.”
—Ruth P. Thomas, Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Students of eigtheenth-century culture and the French Enlightenment will welcome these first translations into English of Duclos’s only two novels. They offer a unique view of French society by the one author permitted his franc parler—blunt speaking—by Louis XV. Readers of the time were certainly grateful, as the novels satisfied the public’s growing interest in the private lives of their contemporaries. The books sold well throughout the century, were admired by writers as different as Montesquieu and Rousseau, and inspired later novelists like Diderot, Laclos, and de Sade.

Madame de Luz (1741) and The Confessions (1742) clearly invite comparisons with Laclos's Les Liaisons dangereuses, published some forty years later. Laclos writes with more elegance and his epistolary form allows greater dramatic effect; on the other hand, though Duclos avoids frankly erotic scenes (albeit erotic enough), he covers a very much larger social spectrum and offers far more subtle and penetrating insights, almost at times proto-Proustian, into the mysteries of sexual relationships; the bluntness of his style is admirably adapted to his constant use of vigorously pungent epigrams.

English readers are long overdue to enjoy these outstanding examples of the French libertine novel.

In addition to translating Zola and editing Baudelaire, Douglas Parmée is the translator of Laclos's Les Liaisons dangereuses in an Oxford University Press Classics edition.