It might be that Madame de Lafayette’s novel of passion is one of the greatest in the genre. It is closer to the declamatory theatre of Racine than to anything in the robust tradition of the English novels of Fielding or Smollett or Dickens. It has generated in John Watson a response in iambics, which seem in English the only way this expressive grandeur can be attempted. Watson has in the past been drawn similarly to the ancient texts of Daphnis and Chloe and Tristan, where passion is also the currency. Princesse de Clèves may
well be his most sustained success.