To many humanist writers, "self" is the center of reflection, and understanding oneself is conducive to the understanding of others. Therefore they like to write biographies whereby to understand the world through the biographee's eyes and hopefully educate the readers through the hero's or the heroine's experience. In France, such biographies in first-person narrative were popular in the eighteenth century. The fact that the hero or heroine described his or her personal experience in first-person narrative could create the mood of verisimilitude, shorten the distance between the author and the readers and, most importantly, serve the purpose of teaching through amusement. Marivaux's novels, La Vie de Marianne and Le Paysan parvenu, were typical of such novels. Marrianne was a helpless orphan, and Jacob was a humble peasant. Showing how they struggled in Paris, the symbol of power, corruption, challenge and temptation, Marivaux demonstrated the meaning of "all souls are equal in value."
UNIVERSITAS-MONTHLY REVIEW OF PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE