ABSTRACT

At the risk of talking ponderously about a light-hearted genre, this chapter considers the philosophical import of the French mid-eighteenth-century fashion for fairy stories. It aims to find some attractive person to whom one can attach themselves. Attacher, the French verb used here, had a prominent place in eighteenth-century amorous discourse, but it also functions in this context as a vector for relations between spirits and humans. The point of intercourse is to attach the spiritual to the human, putting an end to floating sylph-hood. Sceptics and rationalists are regularly proven wrong by narrative developments that are the work of supernatural beings. While it is true that rationalism is not accorded here the time or the space for system building, it should be noted that cabalistic theology is similarly forestalled. In this case both Tanzai and Neardne become enchanted in the libertine sense of the term: they are physically unable to make love.