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La Religieuse (novel)

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Wikipedia article

'La Religieuse' ('The Nun') is an 18th century French novel by Denis Diderot. Completed in about 1780, the work was not published until 1796, after Diderot's death. In English it is called 'The Nun', or 'Memoirs of a Nun' in Francis Birrell's translation.

The novel began not as a work for literary consumption, but as an elaborate practical joke aimed at luring the Marquis de Croismare, a companion of Diderot's, back to Paris. The novel consists of a series of letters purporting to be from a nun, Suzanne, who implores the Marquis to help her in renouncing her vows, and describes her intolerable life in the convent to which she has been committed against her will.

Diderot later revised the letters into a novel drawing attention both to the cruelty of the then-current practice of forcing young women into convents in order to get them out of the way, and the corruption that was rampant among the clergy and in religious institutions. When Diderot publicly admitted his role in the ruse, the Marquis is said to have laughed at the revelation, unsurprisingly since he had behaved with exemplary compassion and generosity in his willingness to help the imaginary Suzanne.

'La Religieuse' was adapted several times for the cinema, most notably in 1966 as 'La Religieuse' (titled 'The Nun' in USA) by Jacques Rivette, starring Anna Karina and Liselotte Pulver.

See also

* Maria Monk

* 'Persian Letters' by Montesquieu

Further reading

*Abrams, Barbara Lise. (2009). ' 'Le Bizarre' and 'Le Dcousu' in the Novels and Theoretical Works of Denis Diderot: How the Idea of Marginality Originated in Eighteenth-Century France'. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-4663-2

*Clark, Andrew Herrick. (2008). 'Diderots Part'. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-5438-4

*Crouse, Gale. (Spring 1980). "Diderot's 'La Religieuse'". 'Explicator' 38.3, 12.

*Mouro, Manuela. (Autumn 2001). "The Compromise of Enlightened Rationalism in Diderot's 'La Religieuse'". 'Romance Quarterly' 48.4, 223239.

*Mylne, Vivienne. (1981). 'Diderot,' La religieuse. London: Grant & Cutler. ISBN 0-7293-0106-0

*Vila, Anne C. (September 1990). "Sensible Diagnostics in Diderot's 'La Religieuse'." 'MLN' 105.4, 774800.

*Werner, Stephen. (2000). 'The Comic Diderot: A Reading of the Fictions'. Birmingham, Ala.: Summa Publications. ISBN 978-1-883479-31-2

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