Anglomanie: The vogue for England in 18th-century French fiction

Posted on 16th October 2019 by simonbeattie

We have just released a new e-list relating to Anglomanie, or the madness for all things English in 18th-century France, and figured we would share with our readers one of our favourites from the list: Nancy, published in 1767 by François-Thomas-Marie de Baculard d’Arnaud (17181805). Our copy is bound with another of his novels, Lucie et Melanie (also 1767).

Title-page and frontispiece for Nancy ou les malheurs de l’imprudence et de la jalousie (1767).

Nancy, ‘imitée de l’anglais’, recounts a young English woman’s fall to ill repute via a scurrilous young man, much in the style of Richardson: ‘Nancy, having (unjustly) lost her reputation, dies of shame; the father curses and disinherits the son before his death; and the hapless Bentley, returning too late to save either, goes raving mad and finally expires after two years in a mad house … To say that Nancy is an exercise in social realism would be a considerable exaggeration. Nevertheless, the use of vocabulary and factual detail—footnoted when necessary—and the relevance of the social milieu to the action indicate a conscious authorial effort to achieve a more authentic national flavour. Other writers, above all the indefatigable Mme de Malarme, avail themselves equally of these techniques’ (Josephine Grieder, Anglomania in France 1740–1789: fact, fiction, and political discourse, p. 80).

For more on this book, and for more books relating to Anglomanie, check out the e-list here.

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