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Title:The differential calculus as the model of desire in French fiction of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
Author(s):Hockman, Kenneth Charles
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nelson, Robert J.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Abstract:The discovery of the calculus registers an epistemological shift. A differential calculus permits the localization of a point as a limit of a formal procedure, such as the maximum achieved by a curve. Under such localization, the imperfection of a mechanical measurement is corrected by the exact determination of the formal method. The actual physical contact of the scientist with his apparatuses serves as a culmination of his experimental encounter with the force of the universe. In like manner, desire emerges as a force independent from other social formations. An effort to localize this desire as sexual corresponds to the similar procedure that motivates the calculus's determination of a maximum. Where desire was previously regulated by narrative processes to maintain state legitimacy, the emerging fiction meditates on the suspension of the satisfaction of the narrative model. I situate my study of the differential calculus in the work of Pascal. Throughout his works a constructive notion of time, a fiction of duration, threads a narrative that extends from his scientific treatises to his theological and philosophical speculations. These writings portray a subject contemplating a tragic vision and I extend this vision to the fiction treated in this study: Madame de Lafayette's La Princesse de Cleve, Crebillon's Les Egarements du coeur et de l'esprit and Les Lettres de la Marquise de M*** au Comte de R***, Rousseau's Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise, and Laclos's Les Liaisons dangereuses. The model of the integral calculus offers justification for the localization of a point as part of a description of the totality of matter in the universe. When the subject considers his abandonment by a lover, he is offered a glimpse of a more profound rift, his separation from this integral totality. So this rift provides dynamic for desire that finds its sense of totality in a new image of the state. A general reading of Sade shows how this new totality is based on an inertia of desire.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Hockman, Kenneth Charles
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9503216
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9503216

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