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The Only Son

Stéphane Audeguy.
Publisher Houghton Mifflin  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 6 x 0.9 inches
ISBN 9780151013296
Pages/Publication Date 246/2008
Daedalus Item Code 12200
List Price: $25.00
Sale Price: $4.98 $1.98
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau mentions his older brother François only two times in his classic Confessions. In this novel, Stéphane Audeguy resurrects Rousseau's forgotten brother in a picaresque tale that brings to life the demimonde of 18th-century Paris. Instructed at an early age in the philosophy of libertinage by a decadent aristocrat and later apprenticed to a clock maker, François is ultimately disowned by his family and flees to Paris's underworld. There he finds work in a brothel that caters to politicians and clergy and begins his personal study of the varieties of sexual desire—to its most arcane proclivities. Audeguy uses the libertine's progress to explore the interplay between the individual and society, much in the tradition of Jean-Jacques, but with a very different emphasis. Bold, erotic, and historically fascinating, The Only Son is, in many ways, the anti-Confessions—François' own, decidedly different, portrait of human nature.

"The older brother of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who is mentioned only briefly—and dismissively—in the French philosopher's Confessions, here embarks on an autobiography of his own, tracing his progress from a watchmaker's workshop in Geneva to a high-class bordello in Paris. He winds up making intricate sex toys, an activity that lands him in the Bastille, where he spends the next 27 years in relative comfort, allowed to go out on walks (and patronize whorehouses) and to import marshmallows for his fellow-prisoner the Marquis de Sade. Full of arch asides—the hero notes that 'the French are readier to pardon a murderer than a man who attacks the dignity of money'—the book strives to be both a critical gloss on the Revolution and a madcap romp, with more success, ultimately, at the latter."—The New Yorker

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