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Divining NatureAesthetics of Enchantment in Enlightenment France$
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Tili Boon Cuillé

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781503613362

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503613362.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

The Harmony of Nature in Paul et Virginie

The Harmony of Nature in Paul et Virginie

(p.142) Chapter Three The Harmony of Nature in Paul et Virginie
Divining Nature

Tili Boon Cuillé

Stanford University Press

Rousseau’s protégé, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, conceived of his Études de la nature as a complement to Buffon’s Histoire naturelle. Chapter 3 traces the generation of his novel Paul et Virginie from his travelogue to its publication as the fourth book of his natural history. Bernard de Lacépède’s Poétique de la musique provides a missing link between Bernardin’s novel and its operatic adaptation by Jean-François Le Sueur. Reading Bernardin’s natural history, full of advice for artists, alongside Le Sueur’s essays on church music, full of tips for composers, reveals that author and composer both sustained and sought to foster mixed emotions in response to the spectacle of nature that led to the “sentiment of divinity.” The chapter concludes with a consideration of French cathedrals, redesigned along lines reminiscent of the opera and the natural history museum in the course of the century.

Keywords:   Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Lacépède, Le Sueur, natural history, Paul et Virginie, opéra-comique, church music, mixed emotions, divine glory, sentiment of divinity

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