Letter to D'Alembert and Writings for the Theater, Volume 10

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UPNE, 2004 - Philosophy - 406 pages
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In 1758, Jean Le Rond d’Alembert proposed the public establishment of a theater in Geneva—and Jean-Jacques Rousseau vigorously objected. Their exchange, collected in volume ten of this acclaimed series, offers a classic debate over the political importance of the arts. As these two leading figures of the Enlightenment argue about censorship, popular versus high culture, and the proper role of women in society, their dispute signals a declaration of war that divided the Enlightenment into contending factions. These two thinkers confront the contentious issues surrounding public support for the arts through d’Alembert’s original proposal, Rousseau’s attack, and the first English translation of d’Alembert’s response as well as correspondence relating to the exchange.

The volume also contains Rousseau’s own writings for the theater, including plays and libretti for operas, most of which have never been translated into English. Among them, Le Devin du village was the most popular French opera of the eighteenth century while his late work Pygmalion is a profound meditation on the relation between an artist and his creation. This volume offers English readers a unique opportunity to appreciate Rousseau’s writings for the theater as well as his attack on the theater as a public institution.
 

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Contents

Iphis
3
The Discovery of the New World
12
The Prisoners of War
37
Translated and Edited by Christopher Kelly
61
Harlequin in Love in Spite of Himself
108
Narcissus or the Lover of Himself
125
Translated and Edited by Christopher Kelly
161
The Festivals ofRamire
204
Pygmalion
230
Geneva
239
J J Rousseau Citizen of Geneva to M dAlembert
251
Correspondence Relating to the Letter to dAlembert
353
Response to the Anonymous Letter
378
Notes
385
Index
403
Copyright

The Village Soothsayer
214

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About the author (2004)

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher and political theorist who lived much of his life in France. Many reference books describe him as French, but he generally added "Citizen of Geneva" whenever he signed his name. He presented his theory of education in Emile (1762), a novel, the first book to link the educational process to a scientific understanding of children; Rousseau is thus regarded as the precursor, if not the founder, of child psychology. "The greatest good is not authority, but liberty," he wrote, and in The Social Contract (1762) Rousseau moved from a study of the individual to an analysis of the relationship of the individual to the state: "The art of politics consists of making each citizen extremely dependent upon the polis in order to free him from dependence upon other citizens." This doctrine of sovereignty, the absolute supremacy of the state over its members, has led many to accuse Rousseau of opening the doors to despotism, collectivism, and totalitarianism. Others say that this is the opposite of Rousseau's intent, that the surrender of rights is only apparent, and that in the end individuals retain the rights that they appear to have given up. In effect, these Rousseau supporters say, the social contract is designed to secure or to restore to individuals in the state of civilization the equivalent of the rights they enjoyed in the state of nature. Rousseau was a passionate man who lived in passionate times, and he still stirs passion in those who write about him today.