Download Benjamin Constant: A Biography by Dennis Wood PDF

By Dennis Wood

`For 40 years i've got defended a similar precept: freedom in every thing, in faith, in philosophy, in literature, in undefined, in politics - and via freedom I suggest the triumph of the individual.' consistent hence summarized his ideals on the finish of his existence. A political theorist and a passionate defender of person liberty, he was once additionally the writer of 1 of the best French novels of mental perception, Adolphe. In a massive new biography Dennis wooden strains the improvement of continuing as a author centrally preoccupied with the problematics of freedom, not just within the fields of politics and spiritual trust but additionally in his personal bothered courting with numerous girls.

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Sample text

46 The whole extraordinary story, which exemplifies as well as anything the stubborn wilfulness of Juste, had begun in 1761, long before his marriage to Henriette de Chandieu. His nephew, Charles de Constant, describes how it happened in a letter to his sister Rosalie: It was pure chance that made my uncle take Marianne, an argument about education with my aunt, Madame de Charrière [de Bavois] who mentioned a very intelligent little girl at Bettens to him; my grandmother never forgave him for what he did.

The best thing I could do for her sake and mine was to go away until she had got over her grievance about me, so that I could enjoy the freedom I feel I need. It’s not too much to ask at 55 years of age to be allowed to oversee my own son’s education. I regret very much not being with my mother and not looking after her as I have for so long, but she has grown tired of my marks of attachment and respect, and in order to justify her present conduct she finds fault in me and accuses me of having secret plans and projects which exist only in her imagination.

Oh wretched human nature! 42 Verhoeff sees in this and similar remarks an element of cruelty and derision, feelings comparable, I think, with the contempt Constant feels at Ann Hurle’s silent acquiescence in her fate. Of course there are rational explanations for Constant’s comments in both contexts; I suppose one could adduce the hard truthfulness about his own feelings of a psychological realist; a belief that life is a battle which ought to be fought Benjamin constant 28 to one’s last breath;43 that people ought, even in extremis, to live out their political convictions.

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