An Alternative Revolution: Isabelle de Charrière’s Politics of Care

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Abstract

How does patriotism shape societies? What might it look like if patriotism were aligned with care rather than violence? In this article, I analyze Dutch-Swiss author Isabelle de Charrière’s novel Trois femmes (1797) through the lens of care ethics, particularly Sarah Clark Miller’s notion of a “duty to care.” Charrière’s novel examines the limits of Enlightenment theories of moralism (especially Kantian morality and duty) by putting theory into practice with a group of three women: a former French aristocrat, a wealthy mixed-race Creole woman, and an Alsatian servant. The three women live together as immigrants in Germany after fleeing France in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and they are bound together by a shared love of country. I propose that Charrière blends patriotism and care in radical ways that break down hierarchies of gender, race, and class and that belie the fiction of equality promised by the French Revolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-110
Number of pages20
JournalEighteenth-Century Fiction
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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