The Unconfessed Précieuse: Mme de Staël's Debt to Mlle de Scudéry

The article traces the influence of Mlle de Scudéry's works on Mme de Staël's Corinne. Mlle de Scudéry's self-portrait under the pseudonym of Sapho was the model for the portrait of Corinne, and Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus provided many of the details of the crowning scene. Several parallels between the use of art in Corinne and in the literature of the précieux are discussed, including the depiction of character through the portrait déguisé, the tour of an imaginary collection for the purpose of defining taste or expressing moral viewpoints, and the tradition of the femme auteur as cicerone. Mme de Staël's use of an intensely portrayed Italian setting to provide local color in Corinne reflects Mlle de Scudéry's principle of historical verisimilitude in her fiction, as seen in the foreign settings for Cyrus and Clélie. Finally the two women authors forced their philosophical thought into the format of the love novel that had served as the traditional literary form for women writers since the seventeenth century. (HOB)

Borowitz, Helen O
Volume 1982-1983 Fall-Winter; 11(1-2): 32-59.