1st Edition

Reimagining Society in 18th Century French Literature
Happiness and Human Rights





  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after September 30, 2020
ISBN 9780367666415
September 30, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
222 Pages

USD $48.95

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Book Description

The French revolutionary shift from monarchical to popular sovereignty came clothed in a new political language, a significant part of which was a strange coupling of happiness and rights. In Old Regime ideology, Frenchmen were considered subjects who had no need of understanding why what was prescribed to them would be in the interest of their happiness. The 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen equipped the French with a list of inalienable rights and if society would respect those rights, the happiness of all would materialize.



This volume explores the authors of fictional literature who contributed alongside pamphleteers, politicians, and philosophers to the establishment of this new political arena, filled with sometimes vague, yet insisting notions of happiness and rights. The shift from monarchical to popular sovereignty and the corollary transition from subjects to citizens culminated in the summer of 1789 but it was preceded by an immense piece of imaginative work.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents





List of Figures





Preface





Introduction



Happiness and the Politics of Words



The Political Anthropology of Happiness and Rights



Literature





Chapter I: The Unfinished Declaration



Debating the Declaration



Nature and Society



Rights and Duties



Enmity and Passive Citizenship



Literature





Chapter II: What Was Literature?



The Author-Politician and the Code of History



Louis-Sébastien Mercier and the Re-Awakening of Patriotic Virtue



Choderlos de Laclos’ Reinterpretation of Dulce et Utile



Marie-Joseph Chénier and the Author-Legislator



Literature





Chapter III: Louis-Sébastien Mercier and the Dream of a Happy Future



Temporality in Mercier’s Utopian Thought



The Form of Government in L’an 2440



Taxation and the Duty of Patriotism



Literature





Chapter IV: The Search for Order in Choderlos de Laclos’ Liaisons dangereuses



Laclos and the Politics of Social Forms



The Rhythm of Social Forms



The Hierarchies of Social Forms



Literature





Chapter V: The Regeneration of the State in Marie-Joseph Chénier’s Fénelon ou les religieuses de Cambrai



Convent Life and Paternal Inflexibility



The Problem of Humanness



Political Agency : From Unhappiness to Happiness



The Tableau Vivant: The Politics of the Happy Ending



Literature





Conclusion



Literature





Index

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Author(s)

Biography

Jonas Ross Kjærgård, PhD, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Aarhus University and recipient of the EliteResearch travel grant. He acquired his PhD degree at Aarhus University, Denmark, with a dissertation on French Revolutionary rights and literature. He has published articles and book chapters on literature and the French revolution and edited the volume Discursive Framings of Human Rights: Negotiating Agency and Victimhood (with Karen-Margrethe Simonsen), published by Birkbeck Law Press. He has begun a new research project on the literary history of the Haitian revolution.