Thesis Title in English (If different from above)

A magnetic marriage : Beaumarchais, Mesmer and a new mode of discourse in the pre-revolutionary Paris


Cara Lynne Lowry

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-9-2012

Major Department or Program



John R. Iverson


On April 27, 1784 Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’ anticipated la Folle Journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro made its theatrical debut. By the end of the year, it would enjoy an historic run of 63 performances and inspire a flood of responding pamphlets and plays, the majority of which offer some combination of parody, continuation or critique of the original. Three of them bring Figaro into direct contact with another of the decade’s major fads, Franz Anton Mesmer’s animal magnetism. An examination of the literary juxtaposition of these two seemingly disparate sensations and the texts in which it occurs reveals an undeniable link between this ephemeral literature and the sociohistorical circumstances of 1780s Paris: each text exists as a concrete example of a revolutionary mode of public discourse. In indicating that the Figaro and Mesmer phenomena belonged to a larger trend of literary and cultural exchange, the texts signal that these crazes were intrinsically linked to significant transformations taking place at the heart of French literary society on the eve of the Revolution.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), Literature -- Societies -- France, Animal magnetism, Paris (France) -- Intellectual life -- 18th century, Socio-histories, Literary movements -- France, Cultural relations -- Cultural exchange, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2012 -- French Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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