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This programme begins with an examination of the structure of the novel, its epistolary nature, and in how far letters are a useful medium to bring out the plot, theme and character, "It's a n...ovel about the dangers of writing things down". The Valmont - Merteuil correspondence communicates passion - of love and war. It's a battlefield. But Professor Hardy suggests these two protagonists are not maniacs, they are shaped by society and its double standards of sexual conduct, and they themselves are part of the subversive underground of that society. They are, both of them, rakes who attack conventions. A male rake's role in the end is conventional, he can flaunt it, but the woman must remain underground, and yet be a match for him. This is a feminist theme, but a monstrous one. In her battle to reject her woman's role, she becomes callous and cruel, with no redeeming features, "Her principles of freedom... independence... revolt are corrupted". This lead Professor Hardy to her last point: that this novel "has claim to be one of the most pornographic of all novels outside the actual genre of pornography. Salacious detail is provided not as a stimulant for the reader, but for the excitement of one charcter by another.
Metadata describing this Open University audio programme
Module code and title: A204, The Enlightenment
Item code: A204; 31
Recording date: 1980-03-03
First transmission date: 23-09-1980
Published: 1980
Rights Statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: This material can be used in accordance with The Open University conditions of use. A link to the conditions can be found at the bottom of all OUDA web pages.
Duration: 00:18:00
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Producer: Helen Rapp
Contributor: Barbara Nathan Hardy
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Dangerous acquaintances; Laclos
Master spool number: TLN10950H939
Production number: TLN10950H939
Available to public: no