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Approaches to Teaching Lafayette's The Princess of Clèves

Editor(s): Faith E. Beasley, Katharine Ann Jensen

Pages: xi & 211 pp.
Published: 1998
ISBN: 9780873527460 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873527453 (hardcover)

Frequently identified in French literary histories as the first modern novel--that is, the first to focus on its characters' thoughts and feelings instead of their heroic actions--Lafayette's La Princesse de Clèves has provoked discussion and strong opinions since it was published in 1678. Today instructors use this increasingly popular novel not only in French literature courses but also in comparative literature courses, women's studies courses, and theme-oriented courses; but its unfamiliar historical setting can be daunting to contemporary classes. In the words of the editors, this collection aims to "give colleagues...a sense of seventeenth-century France and show how the novel is a product of this milieu, for these are the keys to making the novel comprehensible and indeed enjoyable to students."

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Lafayette's The Princess of Clèves

Faith E. Beasley and Katharine Ann Jensen

French Editions

English Translations

The Instructor's Library
Background Studies
Critical Studies

Aids to Teaching



Mirroring Society: La Princesse de Clèves in Context

Lafayette's First Readers: The Quarrel of La Princesse de Clèves
Elizabeth C. Goldsmith

Religious Themes in La Princesse de Clèves
Louis A. MacKenzie

Court Society and Economies of Exchange
Harriet Stone

Virtue and Civility in La Princesse de Clèves
Marie-Paule Laden

Masculinity in La Princesse de Clèves
Lewis C. Seifert

Making Sense of the Ending: Passion, Virtue, and Female Subjectivity
Katharine Ann Jensen

Themes and Structures

The Mother-Daughter Subtext in La Princesse de Clèves
Michéle Longino

Conflicting Emotions: Personal and Cultural Vraisemblance in La Princesse de Clèves
Inge Crosman Wimmers

Getting Inside: Digression, Entanglement, and the Internal Narratives
Rae Beth Gordon

Mapping La Princesse de Clèves: A Spatial Approach
Éva Pósfay

Seeing and Being Seen: Visual Codes and Metaphors in La Princesse de Clèves
Julia Douthwaite

Truly Inimitable? Repetition in La Princesse de Clèves
Louise K. Horowitz

Specific Teaching Contexts

Teaching La Princesse de Clèves in Translation
Faith E. Beasley

What's Love Got to Do with It? The Issue of Vulnerability in an Anthological Approach
James F. Gaines

Romance and Novel in La Princesse de Clèves
Kathleen Wine

Reading La Princesse de Clèves with the Heptaméron
John D. Lyons

Mediation of Desire in La Princesse de Clèves
Anne Callahan

Teaching La Princesse de Clèves in a Women's Studies Course
Elizabeth J. MacArthur


1. The Quarrel over La Princesse de Clèves: Passages from Valincour, Lettres, and Charnes, Conversations
2. Undergraduate Study Guide

Genealogy, La Princesse de Clèves

Works Cited


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