Volume 7, Issue 4, March 2017

A Word from the Editor

Sex and violence might be the theme for this month’s bulletin.

In the Buzz, Charlotte Wells returns to the world of schlock with a review of the popular BBC series Versailles. Devilish plots and rivalries rend Louis XIV’s court while real historical events nourish a made-up narrative. There is so much sex that the series has received the dubious honour of being called the most pornographic among recent historical capers. In keeping with this theme, Jennifer Davis reviews an actual pornographic classic: Thérèse philosophe. In this libertine eighteenth-century novel, ascribed to Jean-Baptiste Boyer d’Agens, the female narrator connects sex with health in defiance of contemporary religious and medical beliefs. As Davis observes, besides a discussion of what is natural and therefore healthy, the novel addresses how texts and images work on the senses, and how the imagination can overcome reason. In the Maybe Missed rubric Roxanne Panchasi reviews the film Les Anarchistes (2015). Director Wajeman, she tells us, was less interested in historical events than in investigating love and betrayal. Thus, although the anarchist group in the film eventually acquires a bomb, ideology and violence do not drive the plot. Rather it focuses on the allegiances of the policeman who infiltrates the group. His loyalties are further torn once he becomes infatuated with the group’s leader’s girlfriend, who comes to share his sentiments. Given the beauty and impeccable dress of the actors, Panchasi wonders if this is radical chic and part of a recent, more superficial approach to the past.

Liana Vardi

University at Buffalo, SUNY


Table of Contents

The Buzz

Versailles On a Dark and Stormy Night, by Charlotte C. Wells

Maybe Missed

Avec l’amour au poing”*: Elie Wajeman’s Les Anarchistes, by Roxanne Panchasi

Classics in the Classroom

The Laws of Eighteenth-Century Sex: Thérèse philosophe, by Jennifer J. Davis

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