UN NOUVEAU PARI DES LUMIÈRES: LE LIEU COMMUN DE LA CONVERSION RELIGIEUSE DU MORIBOND DANS LE DISCOURS FICTIONNEL AU DIX-HUITIÈME SIÈCLE
Fontaine, Marie Joëlle Kathryne
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This essay is founded on two seemingly irreconciliable propositions. On one hand, the Enlightment; the triumph of Reason and man’s increasingly wide access to the spirit of free-thinkin. And on the other hand, a recurring scene in the literature from the time – a true commonplace occurrence –, where a philosopher converts himself to religion before he dies. This paradox obviously appears to be a sign of failure of the Enlightement’s project. However, the investigation of religious deathbed conversion in Eighteen century French literature, which opposes a heterodox character (a heretic, sometimes atheist) to an orthodox character (often a religious figure), reveals a more complex relation between Christian Apologetic and the Philosopher’s literary production, and it demonstrates the singular function of literature in the exploration of new spiritual paradigms at the threshold of Modernity.