If You Are a Libertine, It’s Probably Due to Your Temperament; Only in Paris It’s a Matter of Principles


1791. We are right in the middle of the French Revolution: in just a few months the royal heads will roll; meanwhile at the Salon Jean-Baptiste Regnault presents his painting Socrates Pulling Archibald Away from the Voluptuousness; and if we were to take seriously the claims that the Revolution repudiates voluptuousness, there would be no problem: The French Revolution, of course, was often viewed as the reaction against the XVIII century sensuality; but the relationship is as entangled as Socrates there pulling his pupil away from the hot bed of vice. Baudelaire thought that the Revolution was made by the Libertines, and he was not alone. Today Philippe Sollers thinks that in the XVIII century a sexual revolution anticipated the political one; and so, if we were to analyze the auto-censorship of the French Revolution, we would have to say that before the political counter-revolution there is also the sexual one.

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