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The Pursuit of Virtue

A Study of Order in "La Nouvelle Héloïse</I>

Series:

Jeanne Fuchs

Rousseau's immensely successful epistolary novel, La Nouvelle Héloïse, ushered in the Romantic era and has most often been examined in this light. Without ignoring these elements, the present study, by focusing on the structure of the novel through the movements of its letters, unveils a fundamental order in the work, symptomatic of the pursuit of virtue. The obsession with attaining virtue through order, despite its devastating consequences, places the novel in the Enlightenment framework and the French moralist tradition.