Anger and Authorship in Rousseau

Patrick Coleman

in Anger, Gratitude, and the Enlightenment Writer

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589340
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723322 | DOI:
Anger and Authorship in Rousseau

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This chapter analyzes Rousseau's evolving relationship with his public by examining the distinctions he draws between good and bad anger, between righteous indignation and self-centered resentment. The different ways anger is discussed and displayed in the two Discours, in the Lettre à d'Alembert, in Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, and in Émile, serve to legitimize the low-born author's critique of social conventions and to provoke his readers to action. Yet, they also illustrate Rousseau's belief that a Senecan transcendence of emotion is a key both to social harmony and to the inner equilibrium of the self, and equanimity no less than a Juvenalian capacity for anger is set up as evidence of the author's claim to cultural authority. The tension between these two attitudes is shown to be a primary source of dynamism in Rousseau's work.

Keywords: indignation; resentment; equanimity; Juvenal; Molière; Plutarch; Seneca

Chapter.  27071 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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