The Aesthetics of Artifice

Villiers’s L’Ève future

By Marie Lathers

The Aesthetics of Artifice

148 pp., 6 x 9, notes

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-9258-9
    Published: February 1997

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Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Romance Studies

A detailed reading of Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's 1886 novel L'Ève future, this study explores the author’s construction of the android woman from two angles: science and art. Marie Lathers shows that the novel is a satire of the era's belief that science would cure the ills of the modern world and redeem the femme fatale. She also exposes Villiers's prescient discussion of technologies that form hybrids of science and art. The only lengthy study of Villiers's novel in English, Lathers's book engages significant thinkers of nineteenth-century French aesthetic, medical, and scientific discourse. Contemporary cultural and feminist criticism, particularly that of Roland Barthes, Mary Ann Doane, and Judith Butler, forms the framework of her analysis.