By K. Steven Vincent
This publication advances a brand new interpretation of the timing and personality of French (and extra commonly ecu) liberalism, and contributes to the continued debate about the position of morality, sociability, and conceptions of the "self" in glossy liberal idea.
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Additional info for Benjamin Constant and the Birth of French Liberalism
While it obviously “reflected” his experiences (something arguably true of all novels), it was a self- conscious literary construction of immense introspective power. It grew out of Constant’s coruscating attempt at selfunderstanding. Isabelle de Charrière, Minna von Cramm, and the Court of Brunswick Two women played important roles in Constant’s early life, though in dramatically contrasting ways. The first was Isabelle de Charrière, who Constant first encountered in early March 1787 at the Paris salon of the Jean-Baptiste Suard.
P. ”49 It also was about this time, probably in January 1793, that Constant first met Charlotte von Hardenberg (about whom more information is given in chapter 4). The result for Benjamin, of all of these converging events, was despondency and melancholy, expressed forcefully in his letters to Isabelle de Charrière. Constant and Minna agreed to a separation on March 20, 1793. Though the divorce did not become final until November 18, 1795, Constant left Brunswick for several month beginning in June 1793, and definitively departed from the court in August 1794.
On 20 May (1 Prairial, an III), the last of the great popular uprisings of the Revolution began, with popular crowds from the old revolutionary faubourgs, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marcel, converging on the Tuileries and, for a brief period, forcing the National Convention to accept reforms, including the release of imprisoned “patriots” and the creation of an Emergency Food Committee. Loyal National Guard detachments arrived to protect the Convention and to arrest several of the compromised Montagnard deputies, but an even larger demonstration occurred the following day, 21 May, when large armed contingents faced each other around the Place du Carrousel.