Marivaux, a great French classical author

The social advancement of the handsome “Fortunate Peasant” through the eyes of Marivaux

It was Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (1688-1763) and his “Fortunate Peasant” (1734) that piqued the curiosity of the “Classical and contemporary literature” group for a lively session on Thursday 23rd January.

An inventive and humorous novel, “The Fortuante Peasant” tells the story of the social rise of Jacob, a handsome young man whose good looks take him from his family farm in Champagne to the world of finance in Paris.

Jacob, who became known as Monsieur de La Vallée, decided to write his memoirs…with the assistance of Marivaux’s powerful comic genius.

Irony, humour, and tenderness guide and inspire Marivaux’s writing, as he also allows us to appreciate another of his talents: sociological analysis.

Voltaire famously described the art of Marivaux’s writing as “weighing flies’ eggs on scales made from a spider’s web.” Not to mention the finesse of his analyses and his exceptional gift for comedy!

We were all delighted to discover such an important French classical author and have a taste of the comic tour de force of this particular work. The astute commentary from Alain Lanavère, university professor at Paris IV-Sorbonne, also added to the interest of this novel.

By Marie-Josephine Strich - French literature