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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 Poet as Lawgiver

The Poet as Lawgiver

(p.323) 13 The Poet as Lawgiver
Unacknowledged Legislators

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Lamartine’s career as a poet up to 1830 and focuses on his concerted adoption of the role of lawgiver. In the Méditations poétiques (1820), where he compares Bonald to Moses in presenting his ideal of the writer as moral leader, the poet seeks to be God’s instrument, standing ready to receive and transmit the divine Word. This role is pursued in the Nouvelles méditations and the Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, but the poet’s doubts about the capacity of human language to fulfil this purpose, already manifest in the Méditations poétiques, gradually come to the fore so that by the end of the Harmonies this poetic task seems doomed. Yet at the same time the poet demonstrates, for all his ostensible aspirations to artless passivity, that by his own poetic work he has the power to create verbal patterns which convey the beauty of a putatively divine order.

Keywords:   Lamartine, Restoration, Bonald, Moses, Catholicism, Méditations poétiques, Nouvelles méditations poétiques, Harmonies poétiques et religieuses

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