The New Enfant Du Siecle (Ed Armenteros and Lebrun)

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The New enfant du sicle: Joseph de Maistre as a Writer

Edited by Carolina Armenteros and Richard A. LebrunSt Andrews Studies in French History and Culture

ST ANDREWS STUDIES IN FRENCH HISTORY AND CULTUREThe history and historical culture of the French-speaking world is a major field of interest among English-speaking scholars. The purpose of this series is to publish a range of shorter monographs and studies, between 25,000 and 50,000 words long, which illuminate the history of this community of peoples between the end of the Middle Ages and the late twentieth century. The series covers the full span of historical themes relating to France: from political history, through military/naval, diplomatic, religious, social, financial, cultural and intellectual history, art and architectural history, to literary culture. Titles in the series are rigorously peer-reviewed through the editorial board and external assessors, and are published as both e-books and paperbacks.

Editorial BoardDr Guy Rowlands, University of St Andrews (Editor-in-Chief) Professor Andrew Pettegree, University of St Andrews Professor Andrew Williams, University of St Andrews Dr David Culpin, University of St Andrews Dr David Evans, University of St Andrews Dr Linda Goddard, University of St Andrews Dr Alexander Marr, University of St Andrews Dr Bernhard Struck, University of St Andrews Dr Stephen Tyre, University of St Andrews Dr Malcolm Walsby, University of St Andrews Professor James McMillan, University of Edinburgh Dr David Parrott, University of Oxford Professor Rafe Blaufarb, Florida State University Professor Darrin McMahon, Florida State University Dr Simon Kitson, University of London Institute in Paris Professor Eric Nelson, Missouri State University

The New enfant du sicle: Joseph de Maistre as a Writer


St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture

PUBLISHED BY THE CENTRE FOR FRENCH HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS School of History, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom This series is a collaboration between the following institutions : Centre for French History and Culture, University of St Andrews Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution, Florida State University University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP), University of London Digital Research Repository, University of St Andrews Library The authors 2010 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of the Centre for French History and Culture. First published 2010 Printed in the United Kingdom at the University of St Andrews ISBN 978-1-907548-00-0 paperback ISBN 978-1-907548-01-7 e-book Front cover: portrait of Joseph de Maistre by Benot Molin Reproduced with thanks with the gracious permission of the Muses dArt et dHistoire of Chambry (Savoie).

ContentsAcknowledgements List of contributors Editors note 1 2 3 Introduction: assessing Maistres style and rhetoric Richard A. Lebrun Joseph de Maistre as pamphleteer Richard A. Lebrun Joseph de Maistre, letter writer Pierre Glaudes Translated by Kevin Michael Erwin and Richard A. Lebrun Joseph de Maistre: the paradox of the writer Benjamin Thurston Epilogue: the forced inhabitant of history Carolina Armenteros Bibliography Index page iii v vii 1 19 47

4 5

75 99 117 123


AcknowledgmentsThe essays contained within this volume were first presented at Reappraisals/Reconsidrations, the Fifth International Colloquium on Joseph de Maistre, held at Jesus College, Cambridge on 4 and 5 December 2008. We would like to thank most warmly Darrin McMahon and Guy Rowlands for their extremely helpful comments on the text and exceedingly useful suggestions for the wider project of editing the colloquium proceedings. Our gratitude goes out likewise to the anonymous reviewers of St Andrews Studies in French History and Culture, and to Mouna Ben Hassine for her help with formatting the document. The Editors November 2009



List of contributorsCarolina Armenteros is a Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen and a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge. She specializes in European social and political thought ca. 1748-1914, with a special emphasis on France. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on Maistres philosophy of history and has published two articles on him. One of them appeared in the Journal of the History of Ideas and discusses his contribution to the rise of moral statistics. The other, published in History of Political Thought, describes his historicism. She has co-edited and contributed to the essay collection Historicising the French Revolution (2008), where she writes about Maistre as a forerunner of French sociological ideas on the divided self. Additional interests of hers include the history of historicism, of female education and moral philosophy. Kevin Michael Erwin is a Ph.D. Candidate in French at Columbia University in New York. He holds degrees from Columbia University, University of Paris VII, University of Washington and Boston University. He has been a translator since 2002. Pierre Glaudes, Professor of French Literature at the Universit ParisSorbonne (Paris IV), has devoted his studies to nineteenth-century novelists and essayists. He is the editor of the uvres de Joseph de Maistre (Robert Laffont, 2007). His works include Atala, le dsir cannibale (Presses Universitaires de France, 1994), Joseph de Maistre et les figures de lhistoire (Librairie Nizet, 1997), Nouvelles de Mrime (Gallimard, 2007), the uvre romanesque de Lon Bloy (Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2006), and Esthtique de Barbey dAurevilly (Garnier, 2009). He has edited Le journal de Lon Bloy (2 vols., Robert Laffont, 1999) and is currently directing the edition of the uvre critique de Barbey dAurevilly (Les Belles Lettres, 2005-), four volumes of which have so far appeared.


Richard Lebrun is Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of two monographs on Joseph de Maistre: Throne and Altar: The Political and Religious Thought of Joseph de Maistre and Joseph de Maistre: An Intellectual Militant. He has translated and edited two volumes of essays on Maistre (Maistre Studies and Joseph de Maistres Life, Thought, and Influence: Selected Studies) as well as several of Maistres works (Considerations on France; St Petersburg Dialogues; Against Rousseau: Joseph de Maistres Essays On the State of Nature and On the Sovereignty of the People; and An Examination of the Philosophy of Bacon). Most recently he has produced The Writings of Joseph de Maistre, a database of all Maistres writings in English translation, available by library subscription from InteLex. Benjamin Thurston completed a D.Phil. thesis on Joseph de Maistre (Joseph de Maistre: Logos and Logomachy) at Oxford University in 2001. He has written several articles on Maistres theory of language, including: Joseph de Maistre et la Tour de Babel in Joseph de Maistre: Dossier H (2005); Critique de lcriture comme signe de dcadence et de corruption, Revue des tudes maistriennes, 14 (2004); Joseph de Maistre and the Universal Language of the Church, The European Journal (2002); Language and Revolution in Joseph de Maistres Life, Thought, and Influence: Selected Studies (2001). In 2001, Thurston was awarded a Leverhulme grant to do post-doctoral research at the Universit ParisSorbonne (Paris IV) into biblical discourses in early nineteenth-century French literature. He has written studies of apocalyptic literature during the Consulate and First Empire, the evolution of biblical rhetoric between 1815 and 1830, and Chateaubriands use of biblical language and ideas in Le gnie du christianisme. He is currently Head of Modern Languages at Charterhouse.


Editors NoteOC is the abbreviation used throughout this volume for uvres compltes de Joseph de Maistre (14 vols., Lyon, 1884-1887). The Archives de Joseph de Maistre et de sa famille cited in this volume correspond to the files of the CD-ROM collection of the Fonds de Maistre, Archives dpartementales de la Savoie, 1996. In footnotes some dates are given in both Old Style and New Style, reflecting Maistres presence in Russia.



Introduction: assessing Maistres style and rhetoric Richard A. LebrunI

That the works of Joseph de Maistre have continued to hold sway over both scholars and the general public can be attributed in large part to his abilities as a writer. Certainly, the contents of his thought mention can be made to his critique of the Enlightenment, his counter-revolutionary attitudes, his defense of monarchy and Catholicism, his ultramontanism, and his sociology possess enduring interest for historians given their innovativeness in their own time, and their continuing relevance in ours. However Maistres ability to mould the French language into a new, lively, memorable, and distinctive literary style has also contributed significantly to the influence of his thought. Varied and surprising critics and stylists, from Sainte-Beuve to Walter Benjamin, have been attracted to Maistre precisely because of his aesthetic and literary skills. Although he was a determined opponent of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as is the case with Rousseau, Maistres influence owes much to the magic of his literary style. The essays in this collection explore the nature and significance of Maistres rhetoric. In assessing Maistres place as a French writer there are first of all some biographical details to keep in mind. Though he was French in language and culture, in fact he wa