Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Sauvage, Emmanuelle, «L’évidence du tableau dans les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome et les trois Justine de Sade», Montréal, Université de Montréal, thèse de doctorat, août 2002, xxiv/471 p. Ill. Dir. : Benoît Melançon et Michel Delon (codirecteur).

The aim of this work is to examine the relation of Sadeís novels to theater and painting by referring to the æsthetic doctrine ut pictura poesis, which is still very much alive in France at the end of the eighteenth century. According to this famous quotation inherited from Horace, a poem (and literature in general) is like a painting: words possess a pictorial power (enargeia, evidentia), which is given them by textual images, such as descriptions and verbal figures (e. g. hypotyposis). In Les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome and the three versions of Justine, the portraits and libertine scenes are substitutes for engraved images and dramatic pictures. Philippe Hamonís linguistic approach and Jean-Michel Adamís one may help to understand the organization of the Sadean descriptions in lists, sequences and tableaux. Moreover, such descriptions are indirectly linked to the taxonomic methods that prevail through the Ancien Régime, and more directly to the development of the sentimental genre (novel, drame, painting). Sadeís novels share with Diderotís drames and Greuzeís paintings the notion of the tableau, which implies the presence of many observers: narrator, characters and reader. The witnessesí visual activity is presented in Les Cent Vingt Journées and Justine in different ways, depending on their point of view about the scenes that they observe. Justine is reluctant to see what hurts her principles and her eyes, and consequently she always refuses to look at it and to describe it, but all the same she does. Even some libertine characters refuse both to be seen by their sexual partners and to see the objects of pleasure which have nothing to do with their passions. In spite of these restrictions, their vision rules the world in Sadeís novels.

Keywords: Eighteenth Century • Sade • Novel • Description • Æsthetics

Lire une entrevue d’Emmanuelle Sauvage

Prix de la meilleure thèse de la Faculté des études supérieures de l’Université de Montréal pour l’année 2003 dans le domaine des sciences humaines, arts et lettres; Liste d’honneur du doyen; Médaille d’or de la Gouverneure générale


Sauvage, Emmanuelle, l’Œil de Sade. Lecture des tableaux dans les Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome et les trois Justine, Paris, Honoré Champion, coll. «Les dix-huitièmes siècles», 114, 2007, 298 p. Ill. ISBN : 978-2-7453-1593-9.

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