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Antoine Francois Prévost

Abbé Antoine Francois Prévost d’Exiles (1697-1763), usually called Abbé Prévost, was a French writer, translator and historian. As a young man he was sent to a Jesuit college as a novice, but his literary activities repeatedly interfered in his monastic life. He deserted the monastery and spent some years in the Dutch Republic to avoid repercussions. He later entered several Benedictine convents and in 1726 was ordained to priesthood. In 1728 he again fled and sought refuge in London and, temporarily, the Dutch Republic. From 1733-1740 he edited the literary journal Le pour et le contre in London. His main works include Mémoires et aventures d’un homme de qualité (1728-1731), of which Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut is the most well-known part, and Histoire générale des voyages (20 vols.; 1746-1789).

The fragments:

The influence of the Thousand and one nights in Prévost’s work can be found in some of his Oriental tales and in his novel Histoire d’une Grecque moderne (1740), which relates the adventures of a young Greek slave-girl in Istanbul, who wins the affection of a French diplomat and who is ‘saved’ from captivity in a Turkish harem to be taken care of by the diplomat. The story is more specifically about cultural misunderstandings, the impossibility of crossing cultural divides and the affection of an older man for a young maiden. The association with the Thousand and one nights concerns especially the strategy of deferral and interruption implemented by the maiden to control her relationship with the diplomat. The texts selected here here are Aventure d’une belle musulmane, a sort tale about the adventure of a young couple who escape from custody in Turkey and who experience several farcical adventures before they are formally united. The text is modelled on love romances and reflect the influence of the Oriental tale and, more specifically, the Thousand and one nights, especially the motifs of escape, disguise and the women’s compounds; and Causes de l’élévation de Baltagi Mehemed, about the love intrigues at the Ottoman court. All three texts situate common motifs from the Thousand and one nights in the setting of the Ottoman Empire.
Aventures d’une belle musulmane, in: Oeuvres choisis de Prévost, vol. 35, Grabit, Paris 1816, pp. 60-94.
Causes de l’élévation de Baltagi Mehemed, in: id., pp. 543-549.


Abbe Prevost



Jean Sgard (dir.), Oeuvres de Prévost, 8 vols., Presses universitaires de Grenoble, Grenoble 1977-1986.

Éric Leborgne, Bibliographie de Prévost d’Exiles, Memini, Paris 1996.

Henri Roddier, L’Abbé Prévost: l’homme et l’oeuvre, Hatier-Bovin, Paris 1955.

Jean Sgard, Prévost romancier, José Corti, Paris 1989.

Jean Sgard, Vie de Prévost (1697-1763), Hermann Éditions, Paris 2013.

Julia V. Douthwaite, Exotic women: literary heroines and cultural strategies in Ancien Régime France, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1992.

Weblinks: (Oeuvres de Prévost; ebook) (Library of Congress) (Bibliothèque Nationale de la Diète) (Système Universitaire de Documentation) (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) (Fichier d’Autorité International Virtuel)