Presents the true story of a young girl forced by her parents to enter a convent and take holy orders. Mingling mysticism, madness, sadistic cruelty and nascent sexuality, this novel gives an insight into the effects of forced vocations and the unnatural life of the convent.
'You can leave a forest, but you can never leave a cloister; you are free in the forest, but you are a slave in the cloister.' Diderot's "The Nun" (La Religieuse) is the seemingly true story of a young girl forced by her parents to enter a convent and take holy orders. A novel mingling mysticism, madness, sadistic cruelty and nascent sexuality, it gives a scathing insight into the effects of forced vocations and the unnatural life of the convent. A success de scandale at the end of the eighteenth century, it has attracted and unsettled readers ever since. For Diderot's novel is not simply a story of a young girl with a bad habit; it is also a powerfully emblematic fable about oppression and intolerance. This new translation includes Diderot's all-important prefatory material, which he placed, disconcertingly, at the end of the novel, and which turns what otherwise seems like an exercise in realism into what is now regarded as a masterpiece of proto-modernist fiction.
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Russell R. Goulbourne is lecturer in French at the University of Leeds, England.
The Nun by Denis Diderot
Oxford World's Classics
Used - Very Good
Oxford University Press
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