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Marivaux and Reason

A Study in Early Enlightenment Thought


David J. Culpin

This publication is a study of the ideas of Marivaux, the French novelist and playwright. It covers the fields of literature, history and intellectual history and aims first to shed light on both Marivaux, the man and his writing, and then to situate him within the context of the early Enlightenment. The author identifies Marivaux with the philosophical tradition of innate ideas which was increasingly displaced among intellectuals by materialism as the Enlightenment progressed. The consequences of this affiliation are followed through in successive chapters devoted to metaphysics, morality, religion and politics. A substantial conclusion suggests a number of influences that might have combined to form Marivaux's intellectual outlook. This book is the only work to provide a synthesis of Marivaux's ideas that then acts as the frame-work for resolving contradictory interpretations of his work that have been offered by other scholars.