Jacques the Fatalist

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Penguin Books Limited, 1986 - Fiction - 261 pages
7 Reviews
Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was among the greatest writers of the Enlightenment, and in Jacques the Fatalist he brilliantly challenged the artificialities of conventional French fiction of his age. Riding through France with his master, the servant Jacques appears to act as though he is truly free in a world of dizzying variety and unpredictability. Characters emerge and disappear as the pair travel across the country, and tales begin and are submerged by greater stories, to reveal a panoramic view of eighteenth-century society. But while Jacques seems to choose his own path, he remains convinced of one philosophical belief: that every decision he makes, however whimsical, is wholly predetermined. Playful, picaresque and comic, Diderot's novelis a compelling exploration of Enlightment philosophy. Brilliantly original in style, it is one of the greatest precursors to post-modern literature.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paulagraph - LibraryThing

I love this book and have already started to reread it in anticipation of my French book club's discussion. Diderot pays unabashed obeisance to Sterne's Tristram Shandy with his constantly interrupted ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - WorldInColour - LibraryThing

'Jacques le Fataliste et son maître' is hardly a novel. In fact, it's a very clever parody on the clichés of narration, blind faith and many other things. One should always keep in mind that this is a ... Read full review

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About the author (1986)

Denis Diderot was born at Langres in eastern France in 1713, the son of a master cutler. He was originally destined for the Church but rebelled and persuaded his father to allow him to complete his education in Paris, where he graduated in 1732. For ten years Diderot was nominally a law student, but actually led a precarious bohemian but studious existence, eked out with tutoring, hack-writing and translating. His original writing began in 1746 with a number of scientific works setting out the materialist philosophy which he was to hold throughout his life. Along with his editorship of theEncyclopédie (1747-73), he wrote works on mathematics, medicine, the life sciences, economics, drama and painting, two plays and a novel, as well as hisSalons (1759-81). His political writings were mainly composed around 1774 for Catherine II, at whose invitation he went to St. Petersburg. Diderot's astonishingly wide range of interests, together with his growing prediliction for the dialogue form, led to the production of his most famous works: D'Alembert's Dream, The Paradox of the Actor,Jacques the Fatalist and Rameau's Nephew. During the latter part of his life Diderot received a generous pension from Catherine II, in return for which he bequeathed her his library and manuscripts. He died in 1784.

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