J.-J. Rousseau as seen by six writers of 1848 : A. de Lamartine, P. Leroux, J. Michelet, G. Sand, P.-J. Proudhon, L. Blanc
The detailed history of Rousseau's reputation in France in the nineteenth century is gradually being written. The general outline provided by Albert Schinz(1) and Raymond Trousson(2) is being filled in. F.G. Healey opened the way with his Rousseau et Napoleon in 1957(3). Jean Roussel has followed in 1972 with his Rousseau en France apres la Revolution, 1795-1830. (4) The aim of this thesis is to provide a further contribution to the history of "Rousseauism". In our Introduction, we draw on secondary sources to give an outline of Rousseau's reputation in France prior to 1848. We then proceed to examine in detail the attitudes of six writers of 1848 regarding Rousseau. This constitutes the body of our thesis.1848 marks a watershed. Soon after Louis Philippe's accession to the throne in 1830, the inactivity and corruption of his regime began to provoke general dissatisfaction among the population at large. The question of social justice was discussed everywhere in France. Writers were to be found who not only drew attention to the social evils of the time but who put forward suggestions for reform; some even argued in favour of a return to the Republic. Prominent among such (1) Cf. Etat, present des travaux sur J.-J. Rousseau, Paris,Societe Les Belles Lettres and New York, Modem Language Association of America, 1941.(2) Cf. Rousseau et sa fortune litteraire, Bordeaux, Ducros, 1971. (3) Geneve, Librairie Droz et Paris, Librairie Minard. (4) Paris, Librairie Armand Colin. Writers were Alphonse de Lamartine, Pierre Leroux, Jules Michelet, George Sand, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Louis Blanc. These were the "men of 1848". Indeed, when the Revolution broke out in February, 1848, Lamartine, who was made Minister of Foreign Affairs, virtually headed the Provisional Government while aiding the eighty-one year- old President, Dupont de l'Eure; and Blanc became President of the Luxembourg Commission after having first served as one of the three Secretaries to the Government. We have chosen to study these six figures because they reflect the spirit of change which characterizes 1848 and because for all of them Rousseau had great significance. This, in spite of the fact that, as R. Trousson has indicated (1), the period of the 1848 Revolution, unlike the period of the 1789 Revolution, is generally unfavourable to Rousseau: on the right, Lamartine's intense anti-Rousseauism is matched by Proudhon's on the left; Leroux, Michelet, G. Sand and Blanc stand out as declared disciples; yet, as will be seen for the first time in our detailed study, they too in many respects belong to their age in their fundamental misunderstanding of Rousseau's philosophical and political ideas.