Tropics of Misanthropy

femme-abbe-tp

This peculiar epistolary novel by the lawyer and philosopher Sylvain Maréchal (1750 – 1803) follows the vexed fortunes of its heroine Agatha, who falls in love with a Parisian priest at his first mass, a lapse of judgement leading–through the exigencies of many subsequent circumstances–to her being awakened in a cave by “Timon, ou le misantrope moderne.”

agatha-plate

Timon, in the habit of taking his supper in the cave (“là, il s’abandonnait a ses noires méditations, tout à loisir, et sans craindre les importuns”), there confided to paper some poetical verses, his “Stances misantropiques.”

agatha-stances

Upon finding Agatha, Timon engages her in a thirty-page philosophical dialogue.

Sylvain Maréchal, La femme abbé (Paris: Ledoux, 1801). A recent acquisition.

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