Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Unacknowledged LegislatorsThe Poet as Lawgiver in Post-Revolutionary France$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 15 December 2018

Literature and Progress

Literature and Progress

‘De la littérature’ (1800)

(p.183) 7 Literature and Progress
Unacknowledged Legislators

Roger Pearson

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses De la littérature, Staël’s pioneering study of the relations between literature and society. For Staël in 1800 ‘literature’ still includes historical and philosophical writing, as well as works of the imagination, and she proposes a progressive agenda for the writer as lawgiver and proponent of enthusiasm. The chapter examines how she affirms the possibility of intellectual and moral progress and argues for an accompanying change in literary practice. New circumstances make new readers, and new readers require new writing. Suspicious of verse, which she considers too reliant on fantasy and the supernatural, Staël favours prose as the better medium for innovative rational thought and the fostering of enthusiasm. Through ‘alternative’ lawgiving such literature can create a community of readers ready to oppose the status quo. But already, in her discussion of melancholy, she begins to perceive poetry of the imagination as a powerful stimulus to spiritual aspiration.

Keywords:   Staël, De la littérature, literature, progress, enthusiasm, verse, prose, poetry, readership

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .