Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture
Volume 36, 2007
E-ISSN: 1938-6133 Print ISSN: 0360-2370
McAlpin, Mary, 1960-
Julie's Breasts, Julie's Scars: Physiology and Character in La Nouvelle Héloïse
Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture - Volume 36, 2007, pp. 127-146
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Mary McAlpin - Julie's Breasts, Julie's Scars: Physiology and Character in La Nouvelle Héloïse - Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 36:1 Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 36.1 (2007) 127-146 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Julie's Breasts, Julie's Scars: Physiology and Character in La Nouvelle Héloïse Mary McAlpin It is a general impression experienced by all men, although not observed by all, that in the topmost mountains, where the air is pure and subtle, one feels . . . more serenity of mind, pleasures are less ardent, passions more moderate. Rousseau, La Nouvelle Héloïse, letter I:23, Saint- Preux to Julie Saint-Preux, the long-suffering hero of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Julie, ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (1761), is the quintessential figure of French pre-romanticism. And yet, as this proto-Byron climbs ever higher into the Swiss mountains, bemoaning his sensitive soul, the work does not build toward moral crisis; rather, the higher Saint-Preux ascends into the Alps, the more serene he becomes. As he observes in a letter to the cause of his suffering, Julie d'Etange, the "pure and subtle" mountain air moderates his passions, calming his frenzied mind. This one example of many illustrates that Rousseau's characters are bound to their bodies in a manner quite foreign to the full-blown romantic ethos; as Jean Ehrard writes in his study of Julie: "It is thus to misinterpret Rousseau's novel, and probably to block any comprehension of its...