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RealpoetikEuropean Romanticism and Literary Politics$
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Paul Hamilton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686179.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 September 2021

The Liberties of Benjamin Constant

The Liberties of Benjamin Constant

(p.74) 3 The Liberties of Benjamin Constant

Paul Hamilton

Oxford University Press

Constant’s liberalism, the topic of this chapter, is shown to be a concept whose full implications are only understood when they are seen to be played out in scenarios ranging from his novel Apolphe to De la religion. The accompanying political writings provide the shared context for these otherwise startlingly different initiatives. Constant’s own promiscuity and love of gambling are shown to represent stances consistent with his belief in the importance of keeping all doors open, and his unfaithfulness, vacillation and profligacy is embarrassingly close to his principled toleration of difference in politics and his advocacy of non-denominational religion. His novel Céclile, another of Constant’s long-time literary companions, and much more pointedly autobiographical than Adolphe, is presented as the literary catch-all whose theory he had, like Staël, probably imbibed at Jena. Generous to a fault, its literary virtues are enhanced by what Constant was condemned for.

Keywords:   liberalism, religion, republicanism, mélange, principles, doubling

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