Abstract

This essay revisits the clichéd opposition of the splenetic English and the lighthearted French found in travel writing, novels, and political and cultural criticism throughout the eighteenth century. It observes how French writers from Voltaire and Prévost to Montesquieu, Grosley, and Madame de Staël transformed melancholy from a sign of humoral imbalance, intellectual genius, or religious vocation into both a symptom and cause of political freedom and national identity. These eighteenth-century thinkers offer a model of a peculiarly civic melancholy that stands as a link between earlier humoral theories of emotional dispositions and modern psychoanalytical accounts of national ideologies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 23-45
Launched on MUSE
2003-10-07
Open Access
No
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