Les images de la nature : une ecriture symbolique dans La nouvelle Heloise



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From the striking wealth of imagery in Rousseau's Julie on la Nouvelle Heloise, descriptions of nature stand out in number and vivid realism. While they have always been appreciated as landscape paintings that arc strongly expressive of the observer's mood, their allegorical function, however, appears to have gone unnoticed. This is not too surprising, if we consider that these descriptions are closely linked to the dramatic events in the protagonists' lives, making natural scenery appear to be mere theatrical backdrops. Also, the regional scenery of Lake Geneva, the coach route through the Valais to Italy, as well as the evocation of faraway, exotic places were familiar settings to the 18th century reader, if not to us. The 18th century gentleman traveler and reader of travel literature was often equally versed in garden architecture and landscape painting, and these topics remained of eminent interest well into the 19th century. Thus their seemingly authentic accounts and factual discussions in a "preromantic" novel successfully masked all symbolic content. [...]