Pudeur et amour romantique

Romantic love needs pudeur (modesty and/or reserve) to be romantic. In the steps of Rousseau the Romantics, from Chateaubriand to Stendhal and Balzac, likened human love to the love of God. Consequently pudeur, believed by them to be partly innate, partly taught by social convention, plays a role that is due to their misconception of its nature and function. With the early Romantics, pudeur does not create a harmonious relationship between man and woman but, in a fruitless quest for the divine, unlocks too much the characters' imaginations. With the more bourgeois Romantics it develops an inane mask of decorum. The Romantics show pudeur at work in young girls but, more originally, in young matrons and men. In all these characters hypocrisy is more unconscious than not but egotistical instincts prevail as love turns out to be either too individualized or too socialized under the imperfect impact of pudeur. Thus pudeur helps elaborate the mal du si├Ęcle on such a vast scale that a reaction of anti-pudeur soon sets in. (In French) (JR)

Rossard, Janine.
Volume 1974 Spring-Summer; 2(3-4): 123-27.