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Grayson, Vera Lorraine, «The Genesis and Reception of madame de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne and Cénie», Toronto, University of Toronto, thèse de doctorat, 1994, 397 p. Dir. : Aubrey Rosenberg.

This study of the genesis and reception of Graffigny’s epistolary novel, the Lettres d’une Péruvienne, and her comédie larmoyante, Cénie, is divided into three parts. In Part 1, the composition and revision of Graffigny’s two major literary works are examined. In the case of Cénie, a chapter is included on the preparation for its first stage run at the Comédie-Française. The sources consulted for this section are letters from the Correspondance de Madame de Graffigny, for the most part unpublished, and unpublished manuscripts of Cénie and of Letter XXIX of the Péruvienne, found among the Graffigny Papers in June 1992. From this study of the composition and revision of the Cénie and Cénie emerge several insights into Graffigny’s own interpretation of her works. The concluding chapter of Part 1 discusses the differences inherent in writing a novel and writing a play in eighteenth-century France. In Part 2, the history of the reception of Graffigny’s two works is traced. The success of the Péruvienne lasted longer than did that of Cénie; new editions and translations of the novel appeared until 1835, while the popularity of Cénie dwindled after 1764. Both works fell into disfavour with literary critics during the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century. Over the last ten years, the Péruvienne has enjoyed a revival, due in large part to feminist criticism. Two recent editions of the novel have appeared. In contrast, Cénie remains unknown and no edition of the play has appeared since 1829. In the concluding chapter of Part 2, the reception history of these works is analyzed and compared with the author’s interpretations of them, as described in Part 1. Part 3 is comprised of four appendices. Included in these appendices are editions of Letter XXIX of the Péruvienne and of the Cénie manuscript, which varies significantly from the printed version.


Grayson, Vera, The Genesis and Reception of Mme de Graffigny’s Lettres d’une Péruvienne and Cénie, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 336, 1996.

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