Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne

(2281 words)
  • Peter Wagstaff (University of Bath)

Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne witnessed and drew inspiration from some of the most significant and dramatic transformations of eighteenth-century France. In nearly 250 volumes of novels, plays, essays, reforming projects and utopian tales he captured a society and a culture on the brink of modernity. An acute and critical observer of the world around him, he was equally perceptive in the examination of his own thoughts and feelings, insisting, like his near-contemporary Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the interpenetration of his life and his writing, and thus helping to lay the foundations for the modern genre of autobiography. By turns realist and fantasist, he saw his writing as a means to record, regret and, finally, escape the impact of a …

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Wagstaff, Peter. "Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 December 2005
[, accessed 01 December 2015.]