By K. Steven Vincent
Conventional scholarship on French liberalism has usually proceeded through defining the middle concerns and telling a narrative in their emergence and improvement. This booklet takes a special method: instead of starting with an a priori definition of liberalism, it specializes in the political considered Benjamin consistent and Germaine de Sta?l, the 1st figures in France to name their notion “liberal.” In so doing, it advances a brand new interpretation of the timing and personality of French (and extra widely eu) liberalism, and contributes to the continuing debate about the position of morality, sociability, and conceptions of the “self” in sleek liberal concept.
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Additional resources for Benjamin Constant and the Birth of French Liberalism (Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History)
22 In January 1791, he was, if possible, even more despairing: I am not, shall never be, am not able to be happy. I have had, as everyone, my periods of illusion; this has passed. . 1057/9780230117105 - Benjamin Constant and the Birth of French Liberalism, K. com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-24 Constant: The Early Years (1767–95) 23 24 Constant and French Liberalism This bleak outlook would abate in later years, but Constant always accepted the absurdity of human existence, sensed the vanity of everything, and experienced a morbid fascination with death.
She was very severe in her judgments on all those she saw. I was by nature given to mockery. 37 What is not in doubt, however, is how deeply attracted they were to each other and how profoundly important this connection remained for Constant for the next eighteen years, until Isabelle de Charrière’s death in 1805. No doubt, there were some obvious similarities of background and experience that brought them together: both were nonFrench by birth, but both wrote in French; both were highly intelligent and extraordinarily gifted; both felt (or had felt in the case of Isabelle) hemmed in by the constraints of their families.
78 Though he clearly has reservations about the intelligence of the masses, given the purposes of the Revolution he supported extending the suffrage. 1057/9780230117105 - Benjamin Constant and the Birth of French Liberalism, K. com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-24 34 In such letters, Constant shows himself to be a “democrat” who worried about the excesses of the Revolution, but unwilling to oppose its momentum. 81 And, on balance, the changes introduced by the Revolution were worth the price.