Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Politics of RomanticismThe Social Contract and Literature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Zoe Beenstock

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401036

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401036.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 January 2020

Writing the Social Contradiction: Rousseau’s Literary Politics

Writing the Social Contradiction: Rousseau’s Literary Politics

Chapter:
(p.44) Chapter 2 Writing the Social Contradiction: Rousseau’s Literary Politics
Source:
The Politics of Romanticism
Author(s):

Zoe Beenstock

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401036.003.0003

This chapter explores Rousseau’s account of the tension between community and individual by examining the Second Discourse and the Social Contract on the one hand, and Julie on the other. In his political theory Rousseau defines the state of nature as a mere fantasy which belongs to an optative imagined past. In leaving the state of nature, people trade basic needs for decadent desires. Rousseau introduces the general will as a practical device for managing the asociability of the private will, which is driven mainly by appetite. To safeguard the general will from its wayward members, individuals must form a social contract which transforms them into sociable beings. In Julie Rousseau explores the sacrifices that individuals make in joining the general will, as Julie is torn between personal desire on the one hand and social conformity on the other. Rousseau’s literature suggests that the two are incompatible and thus ‘judges’ his philosophy, exploring the deathly outcome of contract. Rousseau’s use of literature to critique the social contract constitutes his major legacy to British Romantic writers.

Keywords:   Rousseau, Social Contract, Julie, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, General will, Literary genre

Edinburgh 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.