Pre-Modern Joking Relationships in Early Modern Europe: From Le Neveu de Rameau to Le Neveu de Lacan


  • Jernej Habjan Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts


"Two decades ago, midway between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Twin Towers, Franco Moretti offered a geographical sketch of modern European literature. A decade later, halfway between Moretti’s sketch and this article, Rastko Močnik proposed a theoretical formalization of modern European politics. Writing at a time when Europe fell “in love with Milan Kundera,” Moretti (“Modern” 109) sensed the end of modern European literature, including its novel. Writing in a time when the “implicit philosophy of the Council of Europe” entrusted culture to “the invisible hand of the ‘free market’,” Močnik (“Regulation” 201, n. 3) announced the eclipse of modern European political institutions, including its nation-states. In my article, I will use these respective histories of the European novel and the European nation-state in order to trace and comparatively read a set of modern texts on the relationship between uncles and nephews: Denis Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau (ca. 1761-74), Karl Marx’s Der achtzehnte Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte (1851-52), Louis Althusser’s L’avenir dure longtemps (1985), and Jacques-Alain Miller’s Le Neveu de Lacan (2003)."