Publisher’s Note: During the oppressive reign of Louis XIV, Gabrielle Suchon (1632-1703) was the most forceful female voice in France, advocating women’s freedom and self-determination, access to knowledge, and assertion of authority. This volume collects Suchon’s writing from two works – Treatise on Ethics and Politics (1693) and On the Celibate Life Freely Chosen; or, Life without Commitments (1700) – and demonstrates her to be an original philosophical and moral thinker and writer. Suchon argues that both women and men have inherently similar intellectual, corporeal, and spiritual capacities, which entitle them equally to essentially human prerogatives, and she displays her breadth of knowledge as she harnesses evidence from biblical, classical, patristic, and contemporary secular sources to bolster her claim. Forgotten over the centuries, these writings have been gaining increasing attention from feminist historians, students of philosophy, and scholars of seventeenth-century French literature and culture. This translation, from Domna C. Stanton and Rebecca M. Wilkin, marks the first time these works will appear in English.
Comment: This volume could be assigned in an early modern (survey) course together with other texts by women philosophers of this time, such as Mary Astell. Suchon's prose is long-winded but clear. There are a number of tensions in the text between (some of) Suchon's ideas, which offer a good opportunity for discussion with students.