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Description - French Dressing by Nancy K. Miller

Novelists in pre-Revolutionary France were fascinated by what has come to be called compulsory heterosexuality', ritualised public performances of male/female relations as the ultimate human bond. Plots of seduction and betrayal glamorized by the Liasons Dangereuses demonstrate how complicated and treacherous these performances were. French Dressing scrutinizes the ancien regime's practices of unsafe sex, the scenarios of libertinage in which both sexes were equally stylish antagonists. It also shows that women paide unequally, sometimes fatally, for the power games of libertine experiments. In the works of male writers- Laclos and Sade, Duclos and Prost - the shape of narrative requires the staging of sexual conquest, rhetorical and literal undressing. The works of the owmen novelists who were their contemporaries - Tencin, Graffigny, Riccoboni, Charriere - also configure the social relations between the sexes but shift the emphasis to the aftermath of sexual plot: the emotional and physical consequences of a power-driven economy. Female-authored novels have been denigrated as sentimental works fit only for women's tender hearts. But in French Dressing , Nancy Miller argues the women who wrote sentimental novels were like their precursor Lafayette, astutely dry-eyed theorists of gender and its narratives. They rejected death and marriage as the only possible outcomes to the heroine's text and proposed another story altogether. French Dressing puts men's and women's fiction into dialogue in order to confront the complexity of a century obsessed, as we are today, with ways of talking, writing and living sexual identity. This book reads ancien regime libertinage as the emblem of a certain, modern sexuality and exposes the erotic anxieties behind a national culture of sexual self-display.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415903226
ISBN-10: 041590322X
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 254
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 14-Dec-1994
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Nancy K. Miller

Nancy K. Miller is Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is the author of Getting Personal: Feminist Occasions and Other Autobiographical Acts, also published by Routledge.

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