Contemporary readers of Crébillon fils’s Les Egarements du cœur et de l’esprit were apparently struck by the vraisemblance the book exuded. 1 For a variety of reasons, this fact might surprise their modern counterparts. One is the sheer stylization of the narrative, a self-conscious rhetorical patterning 2 that could seem vraisemblable only to an audience itself steeped in artifice—the very members of the monde described in Les Egarements itself, perhaps. A second is the absence from the novel of that most conventional ‘realistic’ prop, the depiction of a material background and the objects that usually fill it: for Crébillon shows no interest in anything but emotional and moral analysis, the time-honoured focus of classical literature. A third, related, factor is the breach of verisimilitude implicit in a narrator’s ability to interpret the emotional and moral states of those around him retrospectively, when they were not signalled in ways that he could have observed or intuited at the time. This is, of course, one of the improbabilities inherent in the adoption of an allegedly first-person perspective that have been highlighted in various studies of the eighteenth-century French novel. 3