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Flaubert's TentationRemapping Nineteenth-Century French Histories of Religion and Science$
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Mary Orr

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258581.001.0001

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The Devil in the Detail

The Devil in the Detail

(p.189) 6 The Devil in the Detail
Flaubert's Tentation

Mary Orr (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Devil's rides into space are a well‐worked topos in literature, but this chapter points out for the first time their literal realities in the Montgolfier balloons and Garnarin's parachute that constitute the 19th‐century ‘transports’ of Antoine's literary‐scientific imagination. The chapter then offers further appraisal of what the Devil ‘shows’ Antoine in space, namely (1) the (19th‐century) heliocentric solar system with the new planets, Uranus and Neptune discovered through understanding of gravitational pull, and (2) the huge literary‐scientific joke behind the Devil's transformations as the Norman mathematician Laplace's famous ‘demon’. The chapter ends by rethinking the genesis of the Tentation through the modern mystères of Le Poittevin's Bélial and Byron's Cain as among Flaubert's personal demons.

Keywords:   Devil's ride topos, Montgolfier balloons, Uranus, Neptune, Laplace, mathematical astronomy, gravity, Laplace transforms, Laplace's demon, Le Poittevin's Bélial, Byron's Cain, personal demons

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