Den sentimentala romanen och kampen om medborgarskap: Rousseaus Julie och Staëls Delphine

Kristina Fjelkestam

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/4.2758

Keywords

sentimental novels; epistolary novels; Germaine de Staël; Jean Jacques Rousseau

Abstract

The sentimental novel and the struggle for citizenship: Rousseau’s Julie and Staël’s Delphine

The tragic fates of a great number of women in sentimental novels of the eighteenth century can be viewed against the background of classic liberal theory. They provide examples of how individual freedom and restraint in the name of common good can be reconciled. Faced with the impossible choice between a life guided by the principle of love and that of virtue, women often choose self-sacrifice as a means of preserving a sense of individuality in the face of the demands of public universality. The epistolary novels, Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761) of Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Delphine (1802) of Germaine de Staël, present two rather different treatments of this problem. Rousseau’s Julie is a woman whose unquenchable desire transforms her into a prototype of female unreliability not worthy of societal recognition. Staël’s Delphine, in turn, unmasks a ruthless and unprincipled society which prohibits her from becoming its full-fledged member.

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License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/