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Fées cartésiennes ou fées newtoniennes : Science et merveilleux dans les contes de deux librettistes de Rameau

Abstract : This analysis is based on two tales published in the 1740s written by two librettists who worked with the composer Rameau, Cahusac’s Grigri and Gautier de Montdorge’s Brochure nouvelle. It analyzes the combination of science and marvel, which have been stranger to each other in the fairy-tale literature until then. The outcome of this hybridization is a renewal of the tale, but also a weakening of the marvellous, which is forced to agree with a morality and a “philosophy of scientists”. Despite the criticism of erudition and the negative picture of the scientist, it seems that science drives the narrative scheme. The choice of names, inspired by science, programs the characters’ behaviours: fairy Cycloid, the opponent of Grigri, follows loops while sticking to the straight line which leads to the marriage between the queen and her lover. The argument in Brochure nouvelle consists in an experiment on young people, during which “difficulties” turn fairy Chicot into a dark character. The Enlightenment’s central topics are soon revealed: prejudice and superstition. The laws of physics are derided, together with the fairy’s whirls: errors are more numerous than truths. Even the traditional theme of impotence is contaminated by mathematical language or by a reference to the regeneration of Trembley’s polyp. In a context of suspicion, a new form of “philosophical tale” emerges, waiting for Voltaire to bring it to perfection.
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Françoise Gevrey. Fées cartésiennes ou fées newtoniennes : Science et merveilleux dans les contes de deux librettistes de Rameau. Fééries. Études sur le conte merveilleux XVIIe-XIXe siècle , UMR 5316 - Litt&Arts, 2009, Le conte, les savoirs, 6, pp.87-105. ⟨10.4000/feeries.702⟩. ⟨hal-02898839⟩



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