Montesquieu's Political Fictions: Oriental Despotism and the Representation of the Feminine

Dobie, Madeleine

This paper takes as its point of departure the relative paucity of post-structuralist studies of Montesquieu. If the political writings of Rousseau have attracted this form of approach, it is undoubtedly because of the reflections on truth and on language which they articulate; by contrast, the Esprit des lois is justifiably acclaimed as introducing empirical or historical methodology into political science. I suggest, however, that a reflection on the problematics of truth and language can be discovered in Montesquieu. This paper sketches out a broadly deconstructive approach to this reflection through a reading of certain aspects of oriental despotism in the Esprit des lois, Lettres persones, and Arsace et Ismeme.


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Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century

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Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Institut et museĢe Voltaire
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May 22, 2014