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The Nun (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Denis Diderot , Russell Goulbourne
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Sep 2008 Oxford World's Classics
'You can leave a forest, but you can never leave a cloister; you are free in the forest, but you are a slave in the cloister.' Diderot's The Nun (La Religieuse) is the seemingly true story of a young girl forced by her parents to enter a convent and take holy orders. A novel mingling mysticism, madness, sadistic cruelty and nascent sexuality, it gives a scathing insight into the effects of forced vocations and the unnatural life of the convent. A succès de scandale at the end of the eighteenth century, it has attracted and unsettled readers ever since. For Diderot's novel is not simply a story of a young girl with a bad habit; it is also a powerfully emblematic fable about oppression and intolerance. This new translation includes Diderot's all-important prefatory material, which he placed, disconcertingly, at the end of the novel, and which turns what otherwise seems like an exercise in realism into what is now regarded as a masterpiece of proto-modernist fiction.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (11 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555246
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 394,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Goulbourne's excellent translation maintains the reader's involvement without sacrificing accuracy. -- Times Literary Supplement, June 10, 2005

Goulbourne's translation is accurate and scholarly. It is easy to read and follow. The explanatory notes are useful and straightforward. -- Catholic Herald, Friday 1, July 2005

This translation serves admirably. -- Catholic Herald, Friday, 1 July, 2005 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Russell R. Goulbourne is lecturer in French at the University of Leeds, England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hard Hitting Novel 22 Feb 2008
By M. Dowden HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have heard of this book and its portrayal of lesbianism in a convent, you will be disappointed. This is not a sex story and has only very mild titillation.

Russell Goulbourne presents here a brilliant new translation of this powerful novel, and also provides a very illuminating introduction. If you are aware of the famous incident at Loudon you will have some idea of what went on in convents. This story is set at a later date, in the eighteenth century, and looks at the phenomenom of a practice quite prevalent then, especially in France. Families would place their children into monasterys or convents if they were illegitimate (as in this book), or couldn't provide suitable marriage dowries, amongst many other reasons. This resulted in what amounts to imprisonment for the rest of their lives of innocent people.

Suzanne, the heroine of our novel is eventually forced into becoming a nun, amongst persecution, bullying, and humiliation. Around her she sees madness, abuse of power and despair, eventually contemplating suicide herself. When she is moved to another convent she encounters lesbianism and sexual jealousy.

This novel is a very powerful portrayal of what was happening in those times and looks at intolerence and oppression, subjects that are still of concern in these days. It is quite easy to see why this was a bestseller in its day, and why it still enthralls readers today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
As the offspring of her mother's affair, Suzanne is ever aware that she is treated less favourably than her siblings. As soon as possible her parents arrange for her to enter a convent, this being a cheap way to dispose of her, while her sisters receive dowries and can marry.
The novel follows Suzanne through her years as a nun- her attempts to refuse to make her vows, the pressure on her to conform and then the different personalities she encounters within the convent walls. From the deeply loving to the incredibly cruel; the melancholy, the jealousy, the madness and the lesbianism.
As Suzanne notes, she is unlike most nuns, driven from the religious life by some unruly passion. 'I want to be free because my freedom was sacrificed against my will.'
Short (180 p) but gripping read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nun 11 Dec 2013
By MES
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Glad I read it, but hard work! Not one I would read again....not everyone`s taste. Still, it was interesting learning about the Church.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'my daughter, I don't want you to poison my life any longer' 9 May 2012
By sally tarbox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As the offspring of her mother's affair, Suzanne is ever aware that she is treated less favorably than her legitimate siblings. As soon as possible, her parents arrange for her to take the veil, (this being a cheap way to dispose of her), while her sisters receive dowries and can marry.
This novel follows Suzanne through her years as a nun- her attempts to refuse to take her vows; the pressure on her to conform and then the different personalities she encounters within the convent walls. From the deeply loving to the incredibly cruel; the melancholy, the jealousy, the madness and the lesbianism.
As Suzanne notes, she is unlike most nuns who are driven from the religious life by some unruly passion. 'I want to be free because my freedom was sacrificed against my will'.
Short (180 p) but gripping read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unable to put down, so enthralled 8 Jan 2013
By RosH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved ths book so much I could not put it down, it was amazing story of the strength of a wonderful nun and the trials she went through with the church
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad 28 July 2013
By Lisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a sad story and is actually difficult to figure out at the end. Quite frankly it is rather appalling and if this is based in fact, then it is beyond horrible. Not an uplifting story and a terrifying commentary on how a closed system can become monstrous for those who do not follow.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It' alright I guess 26 Dec 2012
By Joy2353 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got through the book, but it took some time. Just didn't grab my interest like I thought it would.
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