Issue 2011, number 36: summaries
La traduction en anglais des résumés publiés dans le n°36 a été assurée par Paul Rowe.
«Constant's oratory: a 'philosophical way of encompassing morality and politics in their application'»
Benjamin Constant was, according to his contemporaries, a dialectician of Voltairean wit and Caesar’s imperiousness, despite a weak voice and little presence. It is today impossible to evaluate Constant’s oratorical dramaturgy, because we now only have some often divergent texts of speeches which were mostly improvised. The study of the 1820-1821 parliamentary session, during which he had reached maturity as a tribune, nevertheless allows us to identify what distinguished him as an orator: Constant had, in Nodier’s words, ‘a philosophical way of encompassing morality and politics in their application’. The struggle against the abuse of power and against legislative frenzy takes the form of philological precision, criticism of sources, hunting down the adversary’s contradictions. This eloquence of the expert makes of Constant a pedagogue of the transition to democracy.
«The genesis of the ‘Commentaire sur l’ouvrage de Filangieri’ and its context in the international politics of the years 1820-1821»
The genesis of the Commentaire sur l’ouvrage de Filangieri is related to cultural phenomena linked to the changes in European politics at the end of the eighteenth and the start of the nineteenth centuries, especially to the problem of the cultural heritage of the Enlightenment and to the history of international relations and French foreign policy in the years 1820-1821. The aim of this article is to study Constant’s interest in the revolution in Naples in 1820 and its links to the revolution of 1799 to interpret the Commentaire sur l’ouvrage de Filangieri as a response to the strategies of exiled Neapolitans seeking international support for their cause.
«Claude d’Estournelles et Louise Constant de Rebecque»
Using hitherto underutilised sources in the Fonds Estournelles de Constant at the Archives Départementales de la Sarthe, this article outlines the troubled relationship between Claude d’Estournelles and Louise Constant de Rebecque, Benjamin Constant’s half-sister, between 1816 and 1819. It extends our knowledge of d’Estournelles, unveiling a complex character caught up in the events of Revolution and Empire. It also explores the nature of relations between d’Estournelles and Benjamin Constant, providing context for the latter’s interest in the plight of army officers on half-pay in the early part of the Restoration and revealing Constant’s efforts to secure a new post for d’Estournelles. The article concludes by casting new light on the circumstances of the break-up of the couple in 1818.
«An editing problem: setting the scene in reports of Constant's parliamentary speeches»
The very characteristics of speech-making pose methodological problems when it comes to editing speeches made in a parliamentary assembly. The speeches of Benjamin Contant represent a particularly interesting case in as much as Constant, while he was an important figure in the political life of the era, was confronted with a chamber that was on the whole hostile to him. What is more, he seems to have been without the oratorical powers of some of his colleagues and which seemed necessary in a chamber such as the Palais-Bourbon. Taking into account this specific context, the present contribution considers, through reference to several examples, the question of the often variable press reports of audience reactions during Constant's speeches. As these 'indications of setting' influence the interpretation of the speech and the construction of the reader's perception of the orator, this article reflects on how they should be take into account in the forthcoming critical edition of the speeches.
«A religious foundation of liberalism? Considerations around the the volume 19 of the complete works of Benjamin Constant»
The article introduces the significance of On Religion for a better understaning of the political thought of Benjamin Constant and concentrates thereafter on some specific problems encountered while editing it, notably regarding volume 19 of the complete works. On Religion allows Constant to suggest his conception of subjectivity at a theoretical level, devoting particular attention to the tradition of disinterestedness, which makes his ‘liberalism’ original because it is diametrically opposed to egotistical thought. With reference to the problems of editing the work, the major difficulty is in appreciating the use made of the numerous reference works by German authors, most of which were read in the library at Göttingen, and were rarely referenced in the published edition. This peculiarity, which can be explained by Benjamin Constant's priorities in the work and in relation to the intended readership, posed certain technical problems with are discussed here.
«From Abbt to Zimmermann. The catalogue of Benjamin Constant's library»
The Catalogue of the library of Benjamin Constant, which will be available as a database on the website of the Institut Benjamin Constant in the near future, is reconstructed from four manuscript registers; the preparatory work has made it possible to date these registers more or less precisely (1819-1820, 1822-1823, 1829, 1830). As a result of this work it has been possible to establish the inventory of a more or less virtual library, either because the bibliographical identification of the works cited by Constant in abridged form often remains hypothetical, or because Benjamin Constant's library never actually existed in this shape and these dimensions. The article presents the principles according to which the identification of works was made, through reference to a few significant examples, as well as the particular problems posed by the integration of the four registers and some collections of brochures.
«Benjamin Constant in the Belle Epoque. Some reflections on the case of the Sarthe»
In the first decades of the twentieth century, Benjamin Constant was the beneficiary – especially in the department of the Sarthe, for which he was a member of parliament from 1819 to 1822 – of a series of favourable representations, ranging from pious family reverence to partisan political homage. Based on several unpublished dossiers found in the departmental and municipal archives in Le Mans and in Lausanne, this contribution casts new light on the early research of the Constant scholar Gustave Rudler and allows us to uncover the origins of the bust of Constant inaugurated in Le Mans on the 14th of July 1913.