Claire Duras: Olivier (1785 words)


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In 1825, Claire de Duras wrote to Rosalie de Constant (cousin of Benjamin) that she had finished another novel. Reflecting the secrecy so central to the plot, Duras does not dare reveal its subject. Instead, she describes the topic as “un défi, un sujet qu’on prétendait ne pouvoir être traité” [a challenge, a subject that was considered to be untreatable] (Pailhès, 462), and provides only its title: Olivier ou le Secret. Despite Duras’s own discretion, the novella’s taboo subject – commonly thought to be impotency – was leaked from her salon, where she read her works aloud. Two outsiders to upper-class intellectual society, Henri de Latouche and Stendhal, saw this piece of leaked information as an opportunity …

Citation: Allan, Stacie. "Olivier". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 November 2015 [, accessed 18 June 2021.]

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