Throughout the 18th Century, the novel was consistently chosen by the PHILOSOPHES as a forum in which to present political ideas to a broad audience. French novels of the Enlightenment are therefore often hybrid works in which fictional plots, even love stories, co-exist with philosophical dialogue and with more or less fictionalized discussions of recent political events or debates. We will read novels by all the major intellectual figures of the 18th century -- for example, Montesquieu's LETTRES PERSANES, CONTES by Voltaire, Diderot's LE NEVEU DE RAMEAU -- in order to examine the controversial subject matter they chose to explore in a fictional format and to analyze the effects on novelistic structure of this invasion of the political. We will also read works, most notably Laclos' LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, that today are generally thought to reflect the socio-political climate of the decades that prepared the French Revolution of 1789. In all our discussion, we will be asking ourselves why and how, for the only time in the history of the genre, the novel could have been, in large part and for most of the century, partially diverted from fictional concerns and chosen as a political vehicle.