Oriental Imagination and Human Frailty: Huet and Sade on the Origins of the Novel
Keywords:comparative literature, novel, theory of novel
The paper compares and contrasts two early treatises on the novel: Traité sur l´Origine des romans by P. D. Huet (1670) and Idée sur les romans by the Marquis de Sade (1800). Arguing for an Oriental origin of the novel, Huet cites his observations on the Oriental temperament, which is, in his view, best attuned to the demands of the genre. By contrast, the Marquis de Sade perceives the concept of temperament as a larger one (while opting for the Greek origins of the novel). For Sade, the novel is the product of two basic human needs, the need for prayer and the need for love: while it might be supposed to have made its first appearance (as such) in Egypt, the cradle of all cults, novels have been emerging always and everywhere.
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