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Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies$
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Robert Wokler and Bryan Garsten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147888

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147888.001.0001

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Rouseau on Rameau and Revolution

Rouseau on Rameau and Revolution

(p.46) Chapter 3 Rouseau on Rameau and Revolution
Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies

Robert Wokler

, Bryan Garsten

Christopher Brooke

Princeton University Press

This chapter re-examines the controversy over the nature and extent of Rousseau's influence on the French Revolution of 1789. It does so against the background of the Lettre sur la musique françoise and the uprising which he claimed this work had averted, rather than in the more customary context of the Contrat social and the chain of political events that text may have heralded or initiated. It argues that in effect, if not by design, the Lettre constitutes a critique of the musical philosophy of Rameau—a critique which Rameau himself attempted to refute in his own replies to Rousseau's text. Moreover, it was in the course of Rousseau's formulations of his rejoinders to the counterattacks of Rameau that he came to develop the ideas of the Lettre as a part of his more general social theory—and, indeed, as that part which was to prove the most politically radical in tone and the most revolutionary in its implications.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French Revolution, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Lettre sur la musique françoise, musical philosophy

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