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Unacknowledged LegislatorsThe Poet as Lawgiver in Post-Revolutionary France$
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Roger Pearson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198754473

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754473.001.0001

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The Lawgiver as Poet and Outlaw

The Lawgiver as Poet and Outlaw

‘Corinne ou L’Italie’ (1807)

(p.223) 9 The Lawgiver as Poet and Outlaw
Unacknowledged Legislators

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Staël’s second novel, Corinne and analyses how the central love relationship once more pits enthusiasm—and now poetry, together with the landscapes and locations of Italy—against moral, intellectual, and aesthetic conservatism (now of Northumberland and Scotland). Again the latter destroys the former, and with it Corinne’s poetic function as catalyst of political unity and stimulus of spiritual fulfilment. The relationship between Oswald and Corinne is seen to represent also an opposition between the negative melancholy of Chateaubriand’s mal du siècle and the positive melancholy of Corinne: that is, of a sense of falling short that arises not from something lacking in human experience and to be found only in the afterlife, but from a plenitude of sensual and emotional experience in the here and now that threatens to overwhelm us and yet which can find expression in poetry as a celebration of the apotheosis of humankind.

Keywords:   Staël, novel, Corinne, enthusiasm, poetry, Italy, Chateaubriand, mal du siècle

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