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TocquevilleThe Aristocratic Sources of Liberty$
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Lucien Jaume

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152042

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152042.001.0001

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Resisting the Democratic Tendencies of Language

Resisting the Democratic Tendencies of Language

Chapter:
(p.199) 10 Resisting the Democratic Tendencies of Language
Source:
Tocqueville
Author(s):

Lucien Jaume

, Arthur Goldhammer
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691152042.003.0011

This chapter begins by discussing Tocqueville's comments about his own practice of writing and what “writing well” meant to him. It then turns a question that others asked but Tocqueville made specially his own: Did democracy lack an authoritative institution in intellectual matters? If commerce could proceed on its own thanks to the market, could literature develop on its own and correct its errors by way of competition and interaction? Yet we can also ask whether Tocqueville was right in thinking that modern society, for all its liberty and equality, lacked a literary authority. The remainder of the chapter considers the claim that Tocqueville's aesthetic appealed to a certain idea of “the natural” that exists only thanks to the guardians of taste; and his investigation of the sources of authority in literature. It also argues that in Tocqueville's view, literature continued to have a mission, and its freedom of action was to be encouraged.

Keywords:   Alexis de Tocqueville, writing, literary authority, literature, Democracy in America

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