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The ClassicSainte-Beuve and the Nineteenth-Century Culture Wars$
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Christopher Prendergast

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199215850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215850.001.0001

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Literature and Democracy

Literature and Democracy

Chapter:
(p.200) 8 Literature and Democracy
Source:
The Classic
Author(s):

Christopher Prendergast (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199215850.003.0008

French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, on several occasions, purported to be a friend of liberty and, though less frequently, claimed that the French Second Empire, at least in its so-called left guise and during its so-called liberal phase, was disposed in a similarly friendly way. Not even the adroit Senator could prevent these two propositions from ultimately colliding, famously in his speeches to the Senate in 1867 and 1868, when the more reactionary and authoritarian face of the Second Empire political establishment displayed itself with various threats to freedom of thought and opinion. These formal representations are often seen as both an act of political courage and the statement of a political creed. Clearly, it is not easy to dismiss these moments in the public career of Sainte-Beuve without further ado. The senatorial interventions on particular issues pale into insignificance alongside Sainte-Beuve's broader and repeated misgivings over the ‘democratic’ conception and exercise of modern liberty.

Keywords:   Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve, classic, France, literary criticism, democracy, liberty, French literature, Second Empire, politics

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