The Libertine’s Progress

Pierre Saint-Amand
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, November 15, 1994

The Libertine’s Progress: Seduction in the Eighteenth-Century

The Libertine’s Progress is a comprehensive and concise study of the eighteenth-century French novel, providing a fresh look at amorous relations and offering a radical presentation of the dark side of the Enlightenment. In his preface to the new edition, Rene Girard writes of Pierre Saint-Amand’s successful rendering of the essai classique, “Not a word in his book is superfluous; not a turn of phrase is selected for rhetorical effect. That is why he writes so elegantly.” Maintaining that the eighteenth century was the last period to practice the art of seduction, Saint-Amand examines the complex relationship between desire and the ploys of those who seek to satisfy it. He writes about the magic that permeated the imagination of Enlightenment novelists and about the obscurity of amorous passion, placing modern seduction back in its archaic beginnings.