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FrRevol_i-xxx.indd 25 3/16/12 1:00 PM Note on the Present Edition In recent years the English-speaking academic world has witnessed arenewed interest in the writings ofAlexis de Tocqueville and Benjamin Constant . New English translations of Tocqueville's and Constant's political works have been published by prestigious presses, and special issues on their writings have appeared in important academic journals. Unfortunately , the same cannot be said of Madame de Stael, the other principal figure of nineteenth-century French political thought. None of her major political works are available in English at the present moment, and she remains an unknown figure among political theorists, vaguely linked to Constant , with whom she had a close intellectual and personal relationship.1 The lack of recognition given to Madame de Stael's political writings in the Anglo-American world is both disappointing and surprising given her stature as one ofthe greatest writers and political thinkers ofthe nineteenth century. Readers interested in the debates on the events and legacy ofthe French Revolution can only regret the absence ofan English translation of Stael's On the Current Circumstances Which Can End the Revolution . Similarly, they have been deprived of access to the old English edition ofher Considerations on the PrincipalEvents ofthe French Revolution because it has been out of print for almost two centuries (the book appeared in 1818). Perhaps even more surprising is the neglect of Stael's r. In woo Transaction Publishers republished a selection from Madame de Stael's writings on politics, literature, and national character. Translated and edited by Morroe Berger (the original edition appeared in 1964), this anthology includes a seventeen-page fragment from Stael's Considerations. Also worth mentioning are a selection from Stael's rich correspondence compiled by George Solovieff (Springer Publishing, 2000); the new translation of Ten Years ofExile by Avriel H. Goldberger (Northern Illinois University Press, 2ooo); An Extraordinary Woman: Selected Writings ofGermaine de Staid, edited and translated by Vivian Folkenflick (Columbia University Press, 1987); and the collection ofessays in Germaine de Staid: Crossing the Borders, edited by Madelyn Gutwirth, et al. (Rutgers University Press, 1991). XXY FrRevol_i-xxx.indd 26 3/16/12 1:00 PM NOTE ON THE PRESENT EDITION political works by many feminists, a regrettable oversight that it is hoped will be corrected in the years ahead. Her works shed original light on the central role played by women in French cultural and political life and suggest a novel way of thinking about the role of women in society that challenges some of the assumptions espoused by contemporary feminist writers in the Anglo-American world.2 The Liberty Fund edition of Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution seeks to fill this important gap. Its purpose is to familiarize English-speaking readers with a writer whose unique and seductive voice retains a significant relevance today. Few titles are better suited to promote the principles of political freedom, responsibility, and open society than Considerations. By reprinting a substantially revised and corrected English translation of Considerations, we are making accessible to a large audience a neglected classic of political thought that will contribute to contemporary debates on constitutionalism, representative government , and political moderation. Madame de Stael's work sheds light on what it takes to build a society of free and responsible individuals and explores other important related issues such as the prerequisites ofliberty, limited power and the rule of law, the relation between social order and political order, the dependence of liberty on morality and religion, and the institutional foundations of a free regime. Her political writings offer a powerful critique of fanaticism and remind us that moderation and reason should always be allied with responsibility, respect for individual rights, and decency.3 Considerations on the Principal Events ofthe French Revolution was originally published in French in I 8I 8. The two editions printed that year were followed by four others, in I82o, I843, I862, and 1881. The book was also reedited in Madame de Stael's Oeuvres completes in I82o, 1836, and 1838. No other French editions of the book appeared between I88I and I983, 2. A splendid account of Madame de Stael's contribution to feminist debates may be found in Mona Ozouf, Women's Words: Essay on French Singularity (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1997), a work which, unfortunately, has been ignored in the United States. 3ยท Stael wrote that "reason is not a shade of meaning between extremes, but the primary color given offby...


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