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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 December 2022

Patrick Vincent
Affiliation:
Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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Summary

The introduction argues for a relation between the Swiss myth, Romanticism, and the development of modern liberalism. I notably explain and define the terms used in the book, including negative versus positive liberty, republicanism versus liberalism, and Ancient versus Modern liberty. This brings me to a more detailed discussion of the concepts of liberty, popular sovereignty, and representation in the writings of liberal Swiss intellectuals Benjamin Constant, Germaine de Stäel, and, more briefly, Rousseau. His Letters Written from the Mountain, published half-a-century before Constant’s famous speech, already accepts the passing away of Ancient Liberty, and embraces a modern, representative system in which private virtues supersede public ones and not everyone can participate in the res publica. The Genevan Citizen’s demystification of his own native republic and of Swiss republicanism in general attests to the constructed, ideologically-marked nature of the representations that I explore in the rest of this book. The fact that readers and writers wanted to continue believing in Rousseau’s community of equals in the Alps long after he had stopped doing so speaks to the strength of this Romantic desire, and to the lasting power of the Swiss myth.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Introduction
  • Patrick Vincent, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • Book: Romanticism, Republicanism, and the Swiss Myth
  • Online publication: 08 December 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009210263.001
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  • Introduction
  • Patrick Vincent, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • Book: Romanticism, Republicanism, and the Swiss Myth
  • Online publication: 08 December 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009210263.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Patrick Vincent, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • Book: Romanticism, Republicanism, and the Swiss Myth
  • Online publication: 08 December 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009210263.001
Available formats
×